A sharing spirit is a fantastic quality to have, but that’s not always the case in the sporting world where too often big statistics and the spotlight of being the No. 1 guy prevail.
Fortunately for South Medford’s football team, senior tailback Terrence Butler isn’t interested in getting caught up in all that fuss.
“Football is really special to me,” says the 5-foot-10, 185-pound senior, “and all I care about is if everyone’s having fun then I’m having fun. At the end of the day I want everyone to feel like they contributed, and that’s been successful for us. I haven’t felt a need to be selfish at all this year, I want the best for the school, even after I leave.”
To wit, Butler was the first one on board to support the notion of more potential carries for junior running back Mason DeVries after the first couple weeks of the season.
“The first couple games I did feel like I was getting a lot of carries,” admits Butler, “but we started mixing Mason in and it’s been a great duo. It’s like peanut butter and jelly, it just goes perfectly together.”
However you feel about one of the simple treasures in life, Butler does have a point.
Collectively, the backfield mates have provided a stabilizing influence on offense for the defending Southwest Conference champion Panthers (4-1), who open SWC play Friday night against Roseburg at Spiegelberg Stadium. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
Butler has run 84 times for 428 yards and eight touchdowns to go with 11 catches for 77 yards and one score, while the 5-9, 180-pound junior DeVries has run 48 times for 368 yards and two scores.
“I’m really pleased with how they’re playing and how they work together and complement each other,” says South Medford head coach Bill Singler. “They’re both very humble on who gets the ball and that’s been good for us, it’s just allowed us to kind of ease into our offensive approach a little bit better without having to rely on passing the ball.”
By all rights, Butler could be trying to stake his claim at a primary role after serving as a terrific backup for all-state standout Jaylin Parnell one year ago. In a reserve role, Butler still managed to run for 621 yards on only 64 carries, scoring 11 touchdowns en route to second-team all-SWC acclaim.
But it’s what Butler learned from Parnell that stopped him from carrying a huge ego into the 2018 season.
“When I moved up to varsity, looking at Jaylin, he was a big role model,” says Butler. “He was the guy for three years straight and he took me under his wing and I pretty much run like him now, as hard as I can and try to be as great as he was. I try to be the best I can be now so I can show Mason that’s what South Medford football is all about.”
“No one’s selfish, and that’s for all the guys on the team,” he adds. “No one’s selfish about getting all the catches or getting all the touchdowns, I’m just excited as I am to score as getting all hyped when Mason scores. It’s just awesome.”
To say such treatment is appreciated by DeVries is an understatement.
“Honestly, I just wanted to help the team as much as possible,” says DeVries of his preseason hopes. “I wanted to come in and try to work in tandem with Terrence as much as I could.”
Fully getting his wish by now, all DeVries can do is give thanks to Butler.
“He has been the biggest help I could ever ask for,” says the junior, who put in an immense amount of work in the offseason to be ready for this opportunity. “He’s helped me out during practice, during games and showed me what to do. He kind of took on that leadership role and is kind of mentoring me right now and trying to develop me.”
“He’s probably the biggest blessing I could have with Terrence,” adds DeVries. “He’s been such a huge help and I’m just so grateful to have him as my teammate.”
The feeling is mutual for Butler.
“He’s helped me a ton,” the senior says of DeVries. “We want to spread out rushing yards and carries a bunch, we need to use all the guys that we can. We don’t want to carry all the weight on one person, and Bill really likes getting equal carries. It’s good for rest as well because you don’t want one back that’s super tired, that’s why we’re switching off and on and both in the backfield so much. It’s perfect.”
And while many backfield mates tend to complement each other by providing a strength that takes care of the other’s weakness, that’s not really the case with South Medford’s PB&J.
“It’s a terrific thing for your offense to have multidimensional backs like these two kids,” says Singler.
“Terrence is a big kid who can take punishment inside,” adds the coach, “yet if he creases it, he has the ability to take it the distance with his speed. Mason’s a really hard runner and he just really attacks the line of scrimmage, which is good. His speed’s a little bit underrated, but boy does he really attack the line of scrimmage and get in the hole quickly. He gets those tough yards but he can get chunk yards, too.”
Both running backs agree the best is still yet to come, for South Medford’s running game and for the Panthers overall.
“Our line has grown along with Mason and me so we get a better blocking game every single game,” says Butler, “so that running game just keeps getting better and better.”
“We’ve got a lot of talent on the team and we spread it perfectly,” he adds. “I do feel like if Mason just carried the ball the whole game he’d have tremendous stats. Same with me, and even same with some receivers if they were just getting thrown the ball the whole time. But Bill uses that as his advantage. He wants everyone to have equal stats. It makes everyone happy and makes the team happier, feeling like they contributed, so I think that’s a good thing.”