WHEATON – James Butler waited a year to take the field, so what’s another two days?
The St. Francis senior running back sat out last season waiting to become eligible after transferring from Bartlett. When the season opener against Riverside Brookfield got canceled on Friday and then again on Saturday, it just extended his wait to return to varsity football.
He showed the wait should be worth it for the Spartans.
Butler ran for 181 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries to propel St. Francis to a 35-9 win over RB.
“You don’t know how mad I was feeling those two days,” Butler said. “It was hard, but we came out here to play.”
Butler scored a 34-yard touchdown on the Spartans’ first drive of the game. Steven Fassnacht doubled the lead with a 46-yard run in the second quarter. Butler scored again on a one-yard run just before halftime.
The Bulldogs (0-1) got on the board via a blocked punt in the end zone, but Butler broke a 65-yard run on the Spartans’ next drive to build a 28-2 lead.
Jack VandeMerkt (11-32 for 126 yards) hit Antone Dixon in stride on a 30-yard strike to give RB its first touchdown with 8:55 left in the fourth quarter.
T.J. Jackson closed on the scoring for St. Francis (1-0) with a one-yard run later in the fourth.
“We’re asking a lot from them to go both ways on a few series and it caught up to us a lot sooner than we expected,” said RB coach Brendan Curtin. “The elements were going to be challenging, but at the same time we talked to them all week about mental toughness and playing to the best of your ability regardless of the circumstances. I don’t think we did a very good job of that today.”