As per tradition, the Gridiron Classic features a plethora of exciting games.
While it’s fun to always watch undefeated teams battle it out in the championship games. One undisputed matchup will unfold in the 1A title game between Lumberton and Biggersville, which is the battle between the class’ top two running backs of the Panthers’ Robert Henry and the Lions’ Goldman Butler VI.
Henry and Butler are statistically the top running backs in Class 1A.
Henry, who was leads 1A and was named 1A’s Mr. Football, has rushed for 1,840 yards and 27 touchdowns on the season.
“They are the two best running backs, and there is no doubt,” Biggersville coach Stan Platt said. “There are some good ones out there, but these two are special.
“If (Henry) gets a little seam, then he is gone. He is quick. I saw him do it against Simmons up the middle, and I watched him do it last year in the state championship game on their first play against Nanih Waiya. He has unbelievable speed and a real good speed. I think these might be the best two 1A backs this year.”
Butler has been equally as good as he has run for 1,748 yards and 26 touchdowns.
“He’s a big back who really gets downhill quick,” Lumberton coach Zach Jones said. “He runs with a purpose when he runs. They do a good job of playing to his strengths.”
Each of their roads has been different, leading up to their reputation and production at running back.
Henry has been a machine in the backfield for Lumberton and has accumulated 7,119 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns in his career. Henry has notably rushed for over 1,200 yards every season since he was a freshman.
“He’s a good and a super athlete,” Platt said. “I think people will try to make it out like that. I think Robert Henry is a phenomenal running back with exceptional speed. We are going to have to do our best to contain him. It’s going to be nice to see both backs showcased in the same game.”
Butler had a different path and began his high school career as a defensive lineman.
“That first year I coached here, he was a lineman for me,” Platt said. “That’s how big he was. He came up to me after that season and said he wanted to be a running back and was going to lose some weight and do all the right things. He has done just that. This year he has been phenomenal and had an unbelievable year.”
In the last two years, both players have become multitools for each of their respective teams.
Henry has played a variety of positions from quarterback, wide receiver, and defensive back. Butler has been just as versatile for the Lions, having played quarterback and linebacker.
However, while both coaches believe that the game will feature two of the state’s best running backs, both Jones and Platt don’t believe that their performances will solely decide the game.
“I think both of those guys are great players, but they both have some great players around them,” Jones said. “I don’t think neither will be the deciding factor. I think it will play a big role in it. There will be other key factors, as well.
“I think whoever is able as a team to slow the other one down and whoever blocks and tackles the best has the best chance to win the ball game. Both of us like to run the football, anda there is no doubt about that. I think the one who sets the tone on the line of scrimmage early is going to put themselves at an advantage.”