Anacostia's wide receiver, Quintin Butler, is no longer considered a bench warmer. A fixture in the starting lineup this fall after playing sparingly the last two seasons, Butler has become what the number on his red-and-white jersey says: 1.
And his achievements through only seven games are worth noting: 29 pass receptions and four touchdowns. More impressively, three of the touchdowns came in last-minute, pressure situations and resulted in the game-winning points for the No. 13 Indians (6-1).
"I waited a long time for moments like this to happen," said Butler. "The last two seasons I played behind some excellent players so I had to have patience, observe and learn. Wait my turn."
After transferring from Friendly, Butler saw most of his dreams diminish when he joined Anacostia's team in his sophomore year. Anacostia, the Interhigh defending champion, already had two of the best receivers in the league with all-Mets Pernell Moore (seven touchdown receptions and five scores from punt returns) and tight end Martin Chesley (six touchdown receptions) when Butler arrived. Despite his talents, he did not play much.
"We were already showcasing one of the best passing offenses in the league when Butler joined the team," said Coach Willie Stewart, whose team outscored its opponents, 237-92, last season. "And most of our passing plays had already been designed for Pernell and Chesley.
"Most players would have complained and probably quit if they felt their talents were not being used correctly," continued Stewart. "But Butler showed a lot of patience and discipline. And it has paid off. Right now, I would say he is in a class by himself."
Butler's success began after Anacostia's 21-0 defeat to Gar-Field. Against Dunbar, which Anacostia routed, 30-6, last fall to capture the league title, first-year quarterback Kevin Martin threw a 37-yard scoring pass to Butler (his first). The touchdown came with less than three minutes remaining and gave the Indians a 6-0 victory.
Against Roosevelt, Martin and Butler teamed for a 75-yard touchdown and a 14-6 triumph. Butler, who drew double coverage throughout the game, also pierced the Rough Riders' defense with a personal best eight receptions and 164 yards.
Against McKinley, Butler again proved the difference. Trailing the Trainers, 6-0, in the second half, Martin looked for his favorite receiver and the results were rewarding: a 31-yard touchdown pass to Butler that tied the game at 6. Butler then provided the game-winning touchdown in the final quarter with a 47-yard punt return in a downpour for a 12-6 victory.
"We refined his passing routes and he is running his patterns in smooth strides," said Stewart. "And with his speed (4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash) and soft hands, it makes defenders almost impossible to cover him. What's fascinating is that all his touchdown catches have been the same play -- Pass 74."
What separates Butler from his peers is his ability to run with the football after he catches it. Listed at 5 feet 9 and 162 pounds, Butler, who runs his patterns with grace and elegance, deceives his opponents with aggressive running and exceptional speed. It's no surprise he is averaging 21 yards per reception.
"He's strong and hard to bring down," said Stewart. "He has power in his legs and runs with a reckless determination."
While Butler has been enjoying his new found fame, he tries to avoid the limelight. He can hardly sit still long enough to be interviewed.
"I can't let success destroy my health for the game," said Butler. "There's not enough time to celebrate. Too many things to learn and master. To wear No. 1 and be No. 1 requires a lot of work."