Next in Line

Matthews, N.C. – Playing quarterback at Matthews (N.C.) Butler is different than playing quarterback at other high schools. The position comes with a lot of responsibility, but sophomore Anthony Ratliff is ready for the challenge.

Since 2006, every quarterback to play for the Butler Bulldogs has signed with a Division l college football program. Although Tennessee commit Riley Ferguson is graduating this spring, do not look for the trend to change anytime soon.

This fall, after a Ferguson injury, sophomore Anthony Ratliff was forced into action. Ratliff performed well and gained valuable experience.

"When Riley went down, I had to mature and grow up," said the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Ratliff. "My team needed me, so I had to step up and be the best player I could be."

"Having to lead the team as a sophomore – you have people that doubt you. But you can't worry about what everybody else is saying. So I just went out, played my hardest, and gave my team my best."

"With the experience, I became more of a leader. Then the game experience I got, it helped me as a player. I learned that everything I do when it comes to practice, I have to do it full speed because it makes everything come easier in the games."

Ratliff can beat defenses in different ways.

"I'm a dual-threat quarterback; I can throw the ball and I can run it," he said. "If I have to make plays with my feet, I'll do it – but I prefer my arm."

Although he is only a sophomore, Ratliff knows the significance of being the starting quarterback at Butler.

"Being the next in line makes me feel like I have really big shoes to fill," Ratliff said. "But with that said, it's more of an excitement because I like the fact that I've had leaders like that in front of me."

The Butler signal-caller has taken one visit this fall.

"I went to the UNC-Virginia Tech game," he said. "I enjoyed it and I got to talk to Coach (Gunter) Brewer. He just told me to stay focused – keep those grades up – and you can do anything you want to do."

Ratliff is also attracting interest from other schools.

"I've heard from Arizona, USC, Michigan, Florida, Clemson, and Duke," he said. "I would also definitely like to hear from the University of Alabama and Georgia."

While Butler is a heavy favorite to win the 4AA state championship in North Carolina, Ratliff knows that it will not be easy.

"We can't get complacent – we can't get satisfied with where we are now," Ratliff said. "We just have to stay focused and take it one game at a time."

On the season, Ratliff has completed 19-34 passes for 347 yards and six touchdowns. He has also rushed for 222 yards and three touchdowns. With Ferguson back, Ratliff will move to wide receiver, where he has five catches for 96 yards this season. Butler takes on rival Independence in the second round of the playoffs tomorrow night.

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