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Lee’s Travels to Charlotte, North Carolina to Visit Butler High School and Independence High School

by Lee Brecheen

April 5, 2011 – I went to North Carolina for a three day vacation to see family, but I just had to visit two of the best high school football programs not only in the state of North Carolina, but in the United States.  They are Butler High School and Independence high School. There’s a third high school which has been Nationally ranked over the last few years called Providence which is also in Charlotte, North Carolina, but I did not have time to hit them my only week day there, but I will go by there with my next visit. I have to say what impresses me most about my time at the high schools and seeing the schools in the city, is that you can eat off the ground at these campuses, and their academic support is big time. Even though these programs are so known across the US as football power houses, they are Academic schools first and sports second. When talking to staff at the schools it impresses me to hear how every kid is eligible for college and they take Academics serious. The football offices are modest and the facilities are not new, so these coaches do a great job with modest resources for their football teams.  Hats off to the coaches, and they don’t have spring with their full team for fall which you will read about in the article.

I literally got off a plane and got a quick bite to eat, and started calling schools.  My cousin was my tour guide to show and get me around to these schools Brian Kinchen.

You will read some really awesome facts about these schools that I knew going in and some I did not. I hope you enjoy the travel journal I wrote about these schools and you can learn a little something about North Carolina high school football and the academics at these schools.

 

Butler High School

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Lee with Mike Newsome, Butler Head Football Coach, and Athletic Director Courtney Paschal from Butler High School

Butler High School is a school located in the heart of Charlotte, that’s known for producing some great football players and winning several State Championships. This past year highly recruited LB Kris Frost signed with Auburn.  In the past, other players who signed from Butler are, WR Kenny Moore in 2003, who holds many Wake Forest WR records; 2004 LB Jamar Adams, Michigan; 2010 QB Christian Lemay, another Nationally ranked recruit for 2010 who signed with Georgia; 2008 DB Robert Blanton, Notre Dame, who has a bright NFL future; 2000 WR Jason Anderson, Wake Forest; 2007 RB Ryan Houston North Carolina; 2008 WR Jarrett Boykin, Virginia Tech; WR Eddie Whitley, Virginia Tech; and  2008 DE Spencer Adams, Clemson.

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I had a chance to sit down with Head Coach Mike Newsome, who is a very nice guy, and I asked him what schools in Louisiana if any have recruited his school.  He said, “John Chavis from LSU did come to recruit my LB Kris Frost this past year who signed with Auburn.”  I will tell you this, there was a report done recently that North Carolina is the #1 state where kids are more likely to leave the state overall in the United States. I asked Coach Newsome if LSU or any of the state schools could have a shot recruiting their players, and he said, “LSU and Tulane and the other schools that would have a great shot at my kids if they came down here more to recruit.”

Butler High School has currently 2,300 Students and coach told me there are Two State Champions in North Carolina every year in 4A, because 4A is split into two different divisions overall with two State Champions. There’s a big 4A and a Small 4A Champion in North Carolina.  Butler was the States 4A Big State Champion in 2010. The highest classification in the state of North Carolina is 4A.

Coach Newsome told me the Football program was Nationally Ranked in 2008 and 2009, and in 2010 preseason they were ranked as high as #2 in the US.

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Butler’s future is even better.  2012 Recruit, WR Zach Ferguson (6-4, 200) will be a National Recruit.  They return 3 of the state’s best players for the 2013 class, and are the team to beat again for the State Title in 2011. LB Peter Kalambayi (6-3, 230) will be the state’s best player in 2013 with a 4.0 GPA and over 30 ACT.  Christian Lemay who signed with Georgia this past year has a little brother for the class of 2013 named Uriah LeMay (6-3, 190) who will be a big time player in 2013.  Finally there’s QB Riley Ferguson (6-2, 185) who will also be a National Recruit in 2013 for the Bulldogs.

I would like to thank Head Coach Mike Newsome and Athletic Director Courtney Paschal for making me feel at home on such short notice, and showing me around and helping me with anything I needed.

I was able to watch the film of the Recruits Coach Newsome gave me and all I can say is wow!  If I was a Louisiana IAA or DI school, I would be buying plane tickets now to recruit the kids that come out of Butler High School.

 

Independence High School

Independence
Lee with Defensive Coordinator Josh Kranish (left), and Athletic Director Kelly G. Lewis (right) from Independence High School.

When I think of high schools in North Carolina I always think of the attention Chris Leak got as Player of the Year in the United States coming out of Independence High School.  Independence was ranked in the Top 5 Nationally for most of the 4 years Chris was there and then he went to play for the Florida Gators.  I was able to step foot on campus with the help of Athletic Director Kelly G. Lewis, and the help of Defensive Coordinator Josh Kranish, who is from Chicago, Illinois, and I enjoyed talking to these guys about football. The head coach Bill Geiler wasn’t there when I made it to the school, but he is very well respected as a head coach. Independence is only about 10 minutes from Butler by car, and it’s also in Charlotte, North Carolina.

I learned that not only did Chris Leak come out of the school, but if you think back his brother was a QB who signed few years before to Tennessee.  There was also WR Hakeem Nicks, who played for North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and is now a star with the New York Giants in the NFL.  Coach Kranish told me a very interesting story.  He said, “Hakeem Nicks was only offered by North Carolina his senior year of high school and it wasn’t until late in recruiting that North Carolina even looked at him.  They did not want him at first because his forty time was not fast, and he was much leaner than his current 210 frame.” Other notable players to come out of Independence were QB Joe Cox, Georgia; DT Dre Moore, Maryland and now the Jacksonville Jaguars; DJ Smith, Appalachian State; TE Mario Carter, North Carolina State; WR Jason Barnes, South Carolina; DB Makiri Pugh, Georgia; RB Rod Chisolm, Appalachian State; and  WR Mohamed Massequoi, Georgia .

I asked coach Kranish about the Louisiana Colleges and their chances of getting their players to sign if they recruited their school.  He said, “Louisiana Schools, if they come, they would have a great shot at our kids.  Appalachian State in IAA signs a lot of kids in Charlotte and many of those kids do well, and also Grambling took one of our QB’s. We put out a lot of great skill players every year, but from some reason we don’t get the big time lineman for DI.  We have had over 50 players sign in the last 7 years and the schools that recruit here the most are UNC, NC State, Georgia and Virginia.”

Chris Leak Jersey
Chris Leak’s Independence High School Jersey

I asked coach about the transfer rule in North Carolina compared to Louisiana, and it’s basically the same as Louisiana.  If you live in that school district you can leave a school at any time as long as you live in that district.

Coach Kranish told me an interesting fact for those in Louisiana.  He said, “Recently the city of Charlotte had cut backs, and there will be no middle schools sports for the 2011 -2012 season.”

I asked Coach Kranish about how Spring Football works in North Carolina.  He said, “You can’t dress the full team out for spring.  We will have 20 to 21 kids out for skill development, and our guys have team conditioning in March, April, and May.  The Lineman will work out year around so they don’t gain a lot of weight, and the skill development keeps our guys fast for fall.”  That’s quite a difference from Louisiana spring ball.

Coach had some interesting things to say about the Nations #1 recruit J Clowney from Rock Hill who signed with South Carolina, and played Independence High School in 2009 and 2010. He said, “Clowney is a super nice kid. I remember seeing him chase down my RB from being 20 yards down field at 6-6, 250, and laugh while doing it and help my RB up and joke around with my guys while being a dominant player.  He’s all hands, and he can shoot a gap.  He’s the real deal, and that’s not just hype. His hands are incredible for a lineman.”

The future is bright as two National Recruit Skill players are coming back for the 2011 season.  They are Jack Tocho (6-1, 185), who runs a 10.5/100 meters in Track, and WR DeQuan Barnes (6-1, 160), who is a true legit 4.41/40 guy, who they say will be big time before he leaves.

 

Interesting Facts

Independence also holds the current record for a Public School in the United States for the most wins in a row with 109.  Concord of DeLasalle in California holds the most, but they’re a private school.

Independence won seven State Championships in a row from 2000 to 2006. Chris Leak played at Independence from 1999 to 2002. Leak currently plays for the CFL in Canada with the Montreal Alouettes.

Current Grambling QB, Anthony Carruthers, is from Independence High School.

Half of the football team at Independence finished the first semester on the honor roll.

Independence has an enrollment of 2,000 kids, but lost 700 kids to a new school. After talking to the coaches it will only take a year or two to get enrollment back up to 2,500 or above again.

 

Again I would like to thank the coaches and Athletic Directors from both high schools for treating me really well and showing me around campus. These are not only two of the best high school football programs in the United States, but two of the best Academic schools in the United States. Butler was ranked in the top 100 high schools for Academics and Independence wasn’t far from that in the National rank.

 

About Lee Brecheen

Lee Brecheen, is the owner and publisher of La, Football Magazine and TV show. He is relentless in his pursuit for excellence. He initially broke into the business in 1992 as a football scout. It is his intent to be fair and honest to all high school players and coaches in Louisiana. Lee strives to be the most thorough and accurate researcher and analyst in order to give the best evaluation of all Louisiana high school football talent. He regularly consults with, and is sought by major college football programs throughout the country for information and advice regarding scholarship prospects from among Louisiana’s high school players at all levels of potential.