Butler beats Independence after Patriots’ stadium was vandalized before rivalry game

Butler beats Independence after Patriots’ stadium was vandalized before rivalry game
Independence High’s football field was damaged by vandals Thursday (Source: Independence High//Twitter)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Langston Wertz//The Charlotte Observer) - Friday morning, Independence High School officials discovered their football stadium had been vandalized, hours before a rivalry home game with Butler High School.

One of the school’s goal posts was bent and the letters “BHS” were painted in red on the field. Butler High’s colors are red and black.

Also the words “BHS Dawgs” was spray painted on the Independence press box. Butler’s mascot is a bulldog.

Four years ago, there was a similar incident prior to the Butler home game at Independence, and current Patriots coach Mike Natoli said it happened two years ago as well.

Independence was able to get the field ready for the game. Butler won 23-15 but before the game, Independence football coach Mike Natoli said he didn’t want the act to spoil his team’s approach to playing its rival.

“It was just spray paint, typical vandalism,” Natoli said. “We’re focused on the game. We’re not going to let that distract us. They bent goal post a little bit, but it’s fixed.”

Butler High football sent out a strongly worded statement on its Twitter account condemning the vandalism.

“We are absolutely DISGUSTED by the behavior of the individuals masquerading as fans,” the statement read. “They are most certainly NOT fans, they are criminals and should be treated as such.

“This great rivalry was built on mutual respect, familiarity and the true spirit of competition. It was played and coached by great people and it brought the very best out in everyone. We at Butler Football condemn, as strongly as possible, the events that took place at Independence HS and apologize on behalf of the individuals responsible for them.”

Butler (5-3, 3-1) ultimately won its fourth game in five tries and remained in second place in the Southwestern 4A with Harrisburg’s Hickory Ridge. Butler plays Hickory RIdge next week. Independence (4-4, 2-2) had its two-game win streak snapped.

Butler also won its fifth straight game against Independence, which last beat Butler 34-28 in the 2014 season.