Butler boys basketball coach Cervantes Boddy wishes his team could sneak up on folks this season.
But with a 25-8 record, a region championship and a runner-up finish in the Class AAA state playoffs this past season, that’s going to be impossible.
“I wish we were nobodies,” Boddy said.
To have another successful season, the Bulldogs are going to lean on a talented senior class that includes the likes of Jeff Archie – “a big man in a little man’s body,” his coach said – Dan Lambert and Jeff Menefee, among others.
Though big man and leading scorer Chris Washington is gone, Boddy said when teams centered their attention around Washington, opportunities arose for others to contribute, and they often did.
This season, Boddy thinks Lambert and Ronald Jones will be the focus of opposing defenses, but he and Archie know there’s a long line of scoring threats.
“Anybody can score on any given night,” Archie said.
The Bulldogs will need that depth to compete in a region that features three teams ranked in the Top 10 in Class AAA. Butler leads the trio at No. 2, with Thomson next at No. 8 and Washington County following at No. 10.
However, it’s the presence of the likes of Glenn Hills, Josey, Richmond Academy and Westside that has Boddy most concerned, considering he doesn’t take much stock in the rankings.
“The region will be tough all around the block,” said Boddy, who thinks teams will use Butler as a measuring stick.
Menefee sees it the same way, and considered this past season’s success as somewhat surprising, at least when it came to winning the region. But with the depth at guard, he’s looking forward to outrunning foes.
“No team can run like we run,” he said. “We can have all guards (on the floor) and still play.”
After taking the region title, Butler kept winning, with the Bulldogs stringing together nine consecutive victories before losing in the state championship game.
If his team is going to make a similar run, Boddy knows it’s not going to be easy.
“I tell them all the time, there’s no shortcuts to success,” he said. “The road to success is hard work. If there was a shortcut to success, I’d be rich a long time ago.”