MATTHEWS – Up until last season, it seemed like Butler may never have another true conference rival.
Like Rocky River, Independence had faded away in recent seasons. Both teams had decent years this fall and seem to be trending up, although fights stained otherwise decent runs this year. Rocky River almost beat the Bulldogs this season. Independence never got the chance.
But a rival wasn’t to be formed from them. Bottom feeders East Meck or Garinger are not competitive in this league. Porter Ridge, who is still alive in the 4-A playoffs, has decent teams, but isn’t ready to mingle with the giants of 4-AA football.
Hickory Ridge came in as the newcomer and beat Butler last year. Those teams don’t like each other too much, but the Bulldogs got their revenge and seem a wrung up the ladder still.
Myers Park had lost 18 straight to Butler before last year. They led the Bulldogs 7-0 at their place at halftime last fall during the regular season before the Bulldogs overwhelmed them with 28 straight points.
It was Butler’s 18th straight win over Myers Park dating back to a 17-14 Mustang victory on Sept. 24, 1999.
The Mustangs and coach Scott Chadwick wanted that game last year, but couldn’t pull it off. They wanted to be title contenders, but couldn’t get past the giant in their own conference.
Then they did it, coming from behind in the fourth quarter to beat Butler 28-24 in last year’s playoffs sending the Bulldogs home and ending their string of 10-plus win seasons at 12 consecutive seasons.
It seemed like the guard had changed.
Then Butler won 39-22 this year during the regular season.
It seemed like the guard had changed again.
Then Myers Park won 33-8 in the playoffs last week.
Now it just feels like a really good rivalry and one that’s here to stay.
And that feels good for everyone involved.