I'm pretty sure no one wanted to start off the IHSA 2013 Football season last Friday night more than Wheaton St. Francis senior running back James Butler.
"You can't even imagine how pumped up I am," Butler told CSNChicago.com last week. "It's been a tough year but it will be all worth it on Friday night."
Little did Butler know at the time that his wait would take even longer than anyone could have imaged as several rounds of thunderstorms wiped out the IHSA football slate around Chicagoland on Friday, Butler's game included.
As a sophomore in 2011, Butler showed some real potential on the field at Bartlett High School, but decided he wanted to transfer to St. Francis the following season. He made the move to St. Francis but was ruled ineligible by the IHSA and had to sit out and miss the entire 2012 season. Butler has a handful of scholarship offers, yet a large majority of schools want to see his early-season tape, adding to an already pressure-filled season this fall.
Last Friday night was setting up to be a memorable night for Butler and St. Francis.
"Friday all day was just a crazy atmosphere at school. Our volleyball team was playing one of the top teams in the nation at 6:00 and then everyone was coming over to the football game right after the volleyball game," he said. "We finally have a new stadium at home to play in (Kuhn Memorial Stadium) and everyone was excited. Then boom, here comes the thunderstorm. We waiting around until about 8:30, then they called the game. Our coaches came in and said the game was going to be at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. OK, so it was going to be like getting up for another school day, no problem."
Or so Butler thought anyways.
"We get to school early on Saturday and we are all set to go. We are going through warm ups and we had 2:13 left on the clock left in warm ups," he continued. Then boom, here comes the thunderstorms again. We waited around until 12:30 and then we cancelled the game again. The coaches came back in and said they reschedule for Sunday at 2:00. I think everyone on our team spent the entire night checking the weather."
Yet the game against Riverside-Brookfield went off without a hitch on Sunday. Butler had a solid 20 carries for 180 yards and three rushing touchdowns in the Spartans' 35-9 win. A year plus of training alone, watching and spending an entire season on the outside looking in, all vanished on a hot and sunny Sunday afternoon in Wheaton.
"It felt so good to be out there again. It was a long wait but it was definitely worth it," Butler said. "All I wanted to do was get that first hit in. I'm sore today (Monday) but it's a good sore.
"I'd rather be sore today than what I was last year."