LYNN — Classical senior wide receiver Nashaun Butler had high hopes for the 2018 season when the team first came together in August.
“Going into this season my goal was to go undefeated and try to put the team in a good position whether that was blocking, catching passes or anything else,” Butler said. “Obviously it didn’t end up the way we wanted but the hard work has still been there.”
Despite missing the postseason with a winning record at 4-3, the Rams are riding a five-game win streak into their Thanksgiving matchup with crosstown rival English. It’s a game Butler and his teammates have been thinking about since Week 1.
“I know the seniors and myself, we have been thinking about this game since the first game of the season,” Butler said. “We knew that every game we play is leading up to this and we had to play and get better each week to get ready for Thanksgiving and English.
“I’m feeling excited as this game gets closer,” Butler added. “I’ve been excited since the first week with all my teammates.”
On Thursday the Rams will hope for some of the big plays they’ve seen all year from a group of offensive weapons including Butler, quarterback Keith Ridley and running back Marcus Tucker.
“It’s definitely going to help us, the connection we have on offense,” Butler said. “We have a great running game with Marcus and if that can draw them forward, we know Keith can find myself and our other receivers down field. We want to go right after it and go back and forth with these guys.”
With 14 touchdown catches this season, Butler has added another impressive season to his high school football career.
“(Nashaun’s) our big play guy, our home run hitter, for the last two years,” Rams coach Brian Vaughan said. “Our whole senior class all leads by example and he comes to work ready every day, and we are better for it. As a junior he had one of the best seasons for a wide receiver that Classical has ever seen with 82 catches for over 1,000 yards.
“He has continued that this year with 70 catches and 1,116 yards,” Vaughan added. “He’s always a threat every play in every game. We are certainly happy to have him on this team. He’s probably, numbers wise, overall the best receiver Classical has ever had. Not too many guys have those kind of numbers to show for after high school.”
Those kind of numbers have resulted in Butler getting a lot of attention from opposing defenses, something he expects to continue on Thanksgiving.
“Last year [English] double teamed me a lot so I’m definitely expecting having to fight through that again this year,” Butler said. “We have a good team and everyone is going to have to step up. I definitely have to do my job and fight every play. We still have other players that are going to show up and be ready to play ball.”
The attention opposing defenses dedicate to Butler helps create openings for Classical’s other offensive threats.
“He absolutely helps make all the players around him better,” Vaughan added. “Teams have to pay attention to him and that helps us with our run game and other players in the pass game.”
With his last high school game just a day away, Butler says the reality of his time in a Classical uniform coming to an end hasn’t hit him yet.
“It hasn’t hit me quite yet but I know it will definitely hit me once I strap the pads on Thursday,” Butler said. “I’m going to miss the bond. I love my team and most of these guys I’ve known since we were 7-years-old back in Pop Warner.
“I’m going to miss all the coaches too,” Butler added. “From day one we have been having a lot of fun here. Obviously Coach Vaughan coming in my sophomore year was great. He gave me a shot, saw my talent, liked what he saw and I’m thankful for that.”
Kickoff for Thursday’s game is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Manning Field.