No one roots for first downs like Rick Butler.
If Brooke Point’s longtime Brooke Point public address announcer had his way, the Black–Hawks would average exactly 10 yards per play.
Butler’s signature call-and-response originated during a home playoff game early in his tenure. Each time Brooke Point moved the chains, Butler would shout: “And that’s enough for a Black–Hawks…” and wait for fans to complete the phrase.
At first, crickets. Then sometime around the third quarter, three parents seated immediately in front of the press box started answering Butler with, “first down!”
The chant spread throughout the stadium, with everyone from cheerleaders to the band director taking notice. A trumpeter even played an accompanying fill.
“The fans have caught on, and now it’s just second nature with everybody,” Butler said. “I love to say, ‘Touchdown Black–Hawks’, but that’s my favorite call.”
Butler got his start announcing about 20 years ago, under then-Stafford athletic director Jimmy Jones. By the time he started teaching at Brooke Point, Jones was retired and handling the school’s PA duties. For two years, Butler shadowed his mentor in the press box.
“If my voice ever matches his, I’ll be a happy camper,” Butler said.
Despite his considerable experience, Butler continues to hone his craft through research and relationships alike.
“He’s constantly asking questions, getting to know the kids’ names, where do they want to go, what do they want to do,” coach Dwight Hazelwood said. “He’s always in the know.”
In his 14 years at the microphone, Butler has witnessed senior-laden squads and hopelessly outmatched underclassmen, delirium-inducing wins and the dejection of defeat.
You’ll find him in the press box, putting a voice to Brooke Point’s progress—10 yards at a time.
Last season, the Black-Hawks’ coaching staff largely took the playbook of out quarterback Noah Sanders’ hands. After showing “tremendous maturity” this offseason according to his coach, Sanders will have no such limitations as a sophomore. Receivers Avante Nation and Ian Hill are returning starters, while sophomore Christian Taylor has emerged as a third option in the passing game. On the ground, Brooke Point will employ a “running back by committee” approach, with bruising senior Calvin Asamoah eager to emerge from the timeshare. On the line, all-region selection Jae Darien Warren-Binion headlines a group that returns four starters from a season ago.
All-region sack artist Muhammed Zakari possesses quick hips at defensive end, and the Black-Hawks are equally excited about new nose tackle Isiah Smith, nicknamed “Tank.” Peter Rolando and Patrick Sullivan have solidified their starting status in a deep linebacking corps. In the secondary, there’s significant turnover with Nation stepping in at the bandit position in Brooke Point’s 3–3–5 alignment. Emmanuel Thomas, a 6-foot-4, 200 pound sophomore, will use length to his advantage at strong safety.
Bryce Graf, a soccer player, has seized the kicking and punting jobs, while Nation and A.J. Maxwell, a transfer from Florida, will handle primary responsibilities in the return game.
The Black-Hawks are in the midst of a youth movement, with the notable exception of an offensive line capable of “making any back look good,” says head coach Dwight Hazelwood. Sanders’ leadership and mastery of the offense will go a long way toward deciding Brooke Point’s fate in 2019.