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Butler looking to build off most successful season in 25 years


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Thursday, August 25, 2022 | 1:11 AM


Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side.

After going a combined 0-20 in 2018 and 2019, the Butler football program decided to leave the WPIAL to play an independent schedule.

After finishing 2-4 in 2020, the Golden Tornado enjoyed a winning season last fall for the first time since 1997.

“Before last season, the Butler football team made two goals: be over .500 and make the playoffs,” coach Eric Christy said. “Being 5-4 in the regular season and making the playoffs both in the same season is something that has become rare for Butler football in the past few decades.

“The playoff game was a blast and could have gone either way until late in the fourth quarter. Although winning a playoff game would have been exciting, the team was well aware of the progress and success they had last fall. The team set a new goal of winning a playoff game at the end of the season for this season.”

While Butler was not permitted to join District 10 for football only in 2020, the program was given the green light last year and played a nine-game regular season schedule against seven teams from District 10, Westinghouse from the City League and Kiski Area from the WPIAL.

“When I started football in eighth grade, the culture of Butler football was at one of its lowest points,” Butler senior quarterback Mac Schnur said. “We were not competing, and as an eighth and ninth grader, it was hard to even go to games and want to play varsity. Yet, going into my 10th grade year, we decided to move to District 10 football and start to compete against more teams. This proved to the football players in our school that there is something to be excited about, as well as the community around us.”

The Golden Tornado played McDowell in the District 10 Class 6A championship game, a contest won by the Trojans, 40-21.

There could be another hurdle for Butler to reach their goal of postseason success. As of now, the Golden Tornado are ineligible for the D-10 playoffs; however, Christy is hopeful that can be corrected before the start of the season.

Seven starters return on offense while six are back on defense.

“I am excited to have an experienced core of players to coach this fall,” Christy said. “This group of players not only has experience and success but also is eager to prove that their team belongs being mentioned with most of the successful teams in the state.”

Schnur is coming off a strong 2021 season in which he threw for 1,469 yards and 11 touchdowns.

“Mac Schnur had the second-best statistical season of a quarterback in Butler history,” Christy said. “Mac made big gains in all aspects of his game last year and has focused his future athletic career on the sport of football. Mac has been putting in tons of time at camps, weight room and conditioning to prepare himself for an even bigger senior year.”

Schnur agrees he’s ready to take his game to the next step.

“After finishing the last season, I was surprised with how much the sport of football grew on me,” he said. “The summer has been a big growth period for me not only size wise but also learning the game. Over the many expectations, the ones that I want to complete the most consist of holding our own and show that we are a team that can continue to be successful, keep the culture of Butler football positive for after the seniors are gone and make it to the next level.”

Butler should be strong up front with three lineman back in senior tackle Brock Popovich, senior guard Ethan Babay and senior center Markeis Frazier. All are two-year starters.

Junior Landon Lacey started at running back and safety as a sophomore last year and is back at both positions.

Senior Max Gianneski returns for kicking duties this fall.

One player who will be missed is two-year safety and wide receiver Lance Slater, who had offseason ankle surgery and will miss his senior year of football. Slater had 24 receptions for 462 yards and another 229 rushing with five touchdowns in 2021.

Christy does not have a crystal ball and doesn’t know what the future of the program holds beyond the upcoming 2022 season.

“The goal of this program is to continue to improve on and off the field,” he said. “We want to develop well-rounded young men who use the struggles and adversity of this game to make them better people in our community and leaders in our school and future workplaces. The District 10 community of coaches and players has been a pleasure to work with and play against, and we are very honored to share our Friday nights and Saturday mornings with them.”

Butler

Coach: Eric Christy

2021 record: 5-4

All-time record: 522-464-47

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.26 Shaler, 7

9.2 at Meadville, 7

9.9 Brashear, 7

9.16 at Hollidaysburg, 7

9.23 at Erie, 7

9.30 Seneca Valley, 7

10.7 at Westinghouse, 7

10.14 Cathedral Prep, 7

10.21 McDowell, 7

10.28 at Latrobe, 7

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing: Mac Schnur

86-167, 1,469 yards, 11 TDs

Rushing: Cooper Baxter8

607 yards, 10 TDs

Receiving: Braylon Littlejohn

28-369 yards, 5 TDs

*Graduated senior

FAST FACTS

• Christy begins his fifth season as head coach at his alma mater, Butler.

• The playoff loss to McDowell last year was the first postseason football game for Butler in nearly a decade. The Golden Tornado lost to Mt. Lebanon, 31-7, in the first round of the 2012 WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs.

• The five wins last fall marked the most Golden Tornado gridiron victories in a season since they finished 5-5 in 2003. It’s the most wins for the program since 1997 when Butler last finished over .500 with a 6-4 record.

• This is the 117th season of Butler football. This year is the 45th anniversary of the second and last WPIAL football championship won by Butler. Before overtime, the Golden Tornado earned a share of the district championship when they tied Penn Hills, 7-7, in the 1977 Class AAA title game. The program’s only other football crown came when the WPIAL declared Butler champion at the end of the 1950 season.



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