By Kary Booher (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
He’s got the body that football coaches salivate over (6-foot, 200 pounds), plus a terrific stiff-arm that throws defenders to the ground, speed like a gazelle and a burgeoning resume that includes summer combines sponsored by Nike, Adidas and Camp USA.
Butler-Lawson put on quite a show – and all in the first half – with four touchdowns in rushing for 139 yards on only nine carries in Waynesville’s 57-0 win over Central on Friday. His touchdowns came on runs of 19, 5, 28 and 35 yards, and his 28-yarder was arguably the most impressive.
The win moved Waynesville to 2-3 on the season after snapping a 24-game losing streak last week with a win over Hillcrest.
On that one, Butler-Lawson got hit at the line of scrimmage and, brushed aside a tackle, shuffled his feet with his torso almost straight up and darted on through the secondary. It was a mix of smash-mouth and pure athleticism.
“A lot of people say, ‘You’ve got a big running back and he looks like a finesse player,’” Waynesville coach Joe Haynes said. “But I don’t want him to get out of his comfort zone. We’ve got other guys who can get us a first down with three yards and a cloud of dust.”
Butler-Lawson started a majority of games last season and, since, has added 27 pounds and grown by two inches. In uniform, he looks the part of menace, and said he already has receive invitations to University of Missouri and University of Arkansas camps.
Lessons learned this past summer haven’t been forgotten.
“I learned, ‘Don’t get too ahead of yourself and don’t get out of your comfort zone,” Butler-Lawson said. “And just work hard. That’s it.”
He’s also eager to lead. Which is why, when he didn’t play in the second half, he cheered on teammates and then led the postgame handshake line.
“He’s a team captain, and he’s earned it,” Haynes said. “He wants the younger guys to succeed and be like him.”
With defenses keying on Butler-Lawson, Waynesville can mix it up offensively, and did just that against the Bulldogs. It also helped that the Tigers had solid line play from Dalton Klieber, Timothy Brech, Charles Willingham, Jess Magnia and Maximo Reyes.
Quarterback Michael Lewis threw two first-quarter touchdowns – the first a 37-yarder to Kevin Poinsette on a roll-out in which the receiver slipped behind the defense; the second on a 34-yard sideline-and-go pass to Anthony Bledsoe.
Butler-Lawson scored the Tigers’ third touchdown, and quarterback Aaron Emparato later scored on a 2-yard run on the final play of the first quarter.
From there, Waynesville recovered the first of two pooch kickoffs. Butler-Lawson finished the 30-yard drive with his 5-yard run, and his next touchdown, the 28-yarder, was fueled by Desmond Dawkins’ interception.
The Waynesville advantage hit 50-0 with 3:59 left before halftime when Ian Williams returned a fumble 57 yards for a touchdown. Aaron Choi made all but one of his extra-point kicks, including one that would have been easily good for a 35-yard try.
“I want him (Butler-Lawson) to have 20 touches a game,” Haynes said. “But with him, we’re able to do some window-dressing.”
For Central, it was another frustrating night as the Bulldogs sought their first win. They’re without their top linebacker, center and receiver because of injuries and, until Friday, had played without first-string QB Jimmy Walker.
But Waynesville’s defense harassed the Bulldogs all night.
“We have to learn trust,” Central coach Sean Nevills said. “But we haven’t shown that we trust the coaching or that we trust our teammates.”