CHARLOTTE – It was a busy Monday for Myers Park football coach Scott Chadwick, but he would have it no other way.
His team had just defeated Butler for the second straight season in the playoffs.
The Bulldogs used to be a team Myers Park just didn’t beat. In fact, between 1999 and 2017 the Mustangs had lost 18 consecutive games to Butler with many of them not being close.
That all changed last season in the playoffs, but then the Bulldogs had exacted revenge during the regular season, dominating Myers Park with its relentless ground and pound attack.
But Myers Park turned the corner on Nov. 24, taking advantage of early mistakes to overwhelm the Bulldogs with a 33-8 domination.
It could of been worse as two Mustang touchdowns were called back due to penalty and another drive stalled at the Butler 2 yard line just before half.
“I’m really, really proud of our kids and how they played,” Chadwick said. “It was probably as complete of a performance as we’ve had since I’ve been here against that kind of an opponent.”
But here it was Monday morning. College coaches and reporters were calling, game plans have to be made, practice has to be run and travel arrangements secured in addition to the normal workday.
“Winning is a lot of work,” Chadwick said with a laugh as he drove home around 8 p.m. “Winning is not easy.”
He should know.
Chadwick has previous coaching stops at Marvin Ridge and a few out-of-state schools, but since he arrived at Myers Park ,he’s turned the program around.
The Mustangs had only one winning season among its last eight when he arrived in 2014. That first season he went 5-7, but under Chadwick the Mustangs have won seven, 11,12 and now 12 games this season.
Overall, Chadwick has posted a 47-18 record in five seasons that includes a 35-5 mark over the past three-plus years.
The Butler win, he says, was the perfect game plan and execution.
In the last game, Butler ran all over the Mustang defense, and especially on early downs. And twins Traevon and Raevon Freeman had wreaked havoc on the Mustang offensive line.
But this time around, those areas of weaknesses turned into difference-making strengths.
“The biggest thing was we did a much better job in pass protection,” Chadwick said. “We had some breakdowns in our first game. I thought one of our keys was our left tackle, Juwan Truesdale. He had struggled with one of the Freeman twin defensive ends in our first game, but the other night I though Juwan was outstanding.
“We stopped the run on first and second down, too. I thought we did not do that well in our first game.”
Quarterback Drake Maye was 17-of-23 for over 160 yards. He threw touchdown strikes to Elijah Bowick, who scored twice, and Andre Francois.
But, more importantly, Chadwick said Maye had 23 instances where he dropped back to pass, but only three times when he ended up on the ground thanks to Truesdale and the O-line.
The defense was sensational, too.
Jake Harkleroad, Cameron Roseman-Sinclair, Trey Bly and Roe Chitwood stood out defensively, but it was a dominating effort to hold Butler scoreless until a third quarter touchdown finally got them on the board.
Chadwick said his team celebrated after the win, but he got a sense it was different than last year, when Myers Park finally caught Butler for the first time in 19 tries.
“I think the attitude is a little different,” Chadwick said. “We were excited after the game on Friday because it was a big moment for us. But there was also a sense of, ‘OK, we have more work to do.’ I think maybe last year beating them for the first time and getting the monkey finally off our back might have felt more last year like we had accomplished something. This year, it’s a little more, ‘Hey, we’re glad we did that and it’s a big victory for our program, but we still have more work to do.’”
That work will be done on the road on Nov. 30 as the Mustangs (12-1) travel to Rockingham to face 11-1 Richmond.
Running back Jahiem Covington has already become a 1,000-yard rusher, averages 99.7 yards per game, 7.7 yards per carry and has scored 22 total touchdowns.
Sophomore quarterback Caleb Hood has thrown for 1,835 yards and 21 touchdowns and ran for over 500 yards and five more touchdown.
On the season, Myers Park averages 37.6 points per game and allows 9.1. Richmond averages 38.8 and allows 10.8 points per game.
Richmond defeated Butler, the team’s only common opponent, 30-19 last season and the Raiders have won 10 straight including beating Ronald Reagan 49-7 in the second round last week.
No team has scored more than 14 on the Raider defense since Butler did on Sept. 7. The teams have played twice since 2004, but split the games with Richmond winning 22-13 in 2005.
“I would describe them offensively to Porter Ridge as the closest matchup,” Chadwick said. “They have a dual-threat quarterback who is the guy like Grayson (McCall) is and they have a running back they rely on like Porter Ridge does. They’re just very, very sound. If you look at scoring numbers and points allowed, it’s very similar numbers us and them.”
Chadwick knows the crowd is going to be raucous in Rockingham, perhaps louder and fuller than anything they’ve faced yet.
But under Chadwick the Mustangs are 15-1 – only Butler this season got them – in road games dating back to a 2015 playoff loss to West Forsyth to end the 2015 season.
So they’ll be ready to play with the winner playing for the Western Regional championship, something Myers Park hasn’t done since 2005.
“The big advantage they have is that they’re home,” Chadwick said. “You hear all of the legendary stories of them and their home-field advantage so that’s something that we’re going to have to overcome.
“This 4-AA west bracket has to be one of the best in the southeastern United States. It’s a bloodbath. We’re still playing and we’re still competing at the very, very highest level of North Carolina high school football. We’ll take our shot on Friday and see what happens.”