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The best story in San Diego high school football this year will be a little warmer and fuzzier if Carlsbad High officials are able to arrange for a heated box at Qualcomm Stadium for Monday’s CIF San Diego Section championship games.
Carlsbad defends its Division I title Monday night against Poway in the fourth game of the quadruple-header that begins at 10 a.m. with the Division IV game and continues with Division III at 1 p.m., Division II at 4:30 p.m. and Division I at 8 p.m.
Michelle Butler, younger sister of Carlsbad star linebacker Brock Butler, has been at the City of Hope in Duarte since September 25 while fighting rare form of leukemia that has no cure.
Michelle, a freshman on the track team last spring when she was diagnosed, received a bone marrow transplant necessary to save her life. Doctors say the transplant – another older brother, Brandon, was the donor – has taken successfully.
But Michelle’s immune system remains low, so her doctors won’t let her attend the game unless she’s seated in a heated box, wearing a mask and away from the crowd.
Michelle has been able to watch tapes of Carlsbad’s 9-0-2 season in her hospital room. The Butler siblings are close, and Brock – one of the San Diego’s top linebackers – said before the season began that watching his sister fight leukemia over the summer would motivate him to play harder this year.
He has been true to his word. Michelle’s difficult circumstances could have understandably distracted Brock’s play, but Carlsbad coach Bob McAllister says Brock has put together a season deserving of All-CIF honors and a Division I-A scholarship.
McAllister compares Butler, a 6-foot-2, 220-pounder, to a smaller version of St. Louis Rams linebacker Brandon Chillar, a Carlsbad alumnus.
“He makes play after play for us,” McAllister said. “He uses his natural instincts, and he’s very coachable.”
UNLV and Northern Arizona scouts were watching Butler at Carlsbad’s semifinal win over Escondido Thursday night when he had two sacks and a fumble recovery. Butler, who also has had interested from Oregon, says he wants to stay close to home and hopes to receive a scholarship offer from San Diego State.
Wherever he plays college football, by then Michelle should be able to sit where she wants – among the rest of the fans.