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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Cloverdale's fight for coach Butler a worthwhile cause

Friday, December 21, 2012

I've never been coached by John Butler, and I've not sat in his classroom, but I have learned from him.

He has of way of speaking, about football, and about his kids, that always teaches.

When emotions are high after a game, he's deliberate with his words. He makes sure everyone understands -- always.

He's not telling, he's showing.

As the Cloverdale football team struggled through a winless regular season, Butler stayed positive, upbeat.

There were rumors swirling around -- as early as week three -- that his job could be in jeopardy.

He heard them. The players and parents heard them.

Butler kept it going.

The season started with Cloverdale having its biggest roster in the school's recent history.

By the end of week four, the team had lost 17 of 22 starters to season- or career-ending injury, and nine more of the key subs.

They finished the regular season 0-9, and the sectional quarterfinal game began when Riverton Parke returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown.

Most 16- and 17-year-old kids would get down on themselves.

"My football team -- my staff and my kids -- have literally moved on from the first nine weeks of the season," Butler said after the RPHS game.

On their first drive, the Clovers went for it on fourth down from their own their own 32-yard line.

They picked up the first down. On the next play, junior Wade Warren took the ball 58 yards for a score.

"We bought in to what coach is saying," Warren said Tuesday.

How do you get a group of kids to buy in when all they've known that season is losing? When they walk down the hall wearing jerseys on Friday and other students laugh at them?

"You've got to have faith," senior Dustin Cummings said. "And he believes in us."

Cloverdale won that game. Instead of being down on themselves, the kids played their best football -- physically and mentally -- of the year.

Most of the players and parents love him. It's impossible to get through an interview with Butler and not be interrupted several times by parents and players coming up to shake his hand and thank him.

"I'll get you when we get back," he always says, not wanting to be rude and make the reporter wait. If he shakes one hand, he'll have to shake them all.

After his team lost to Attica in the sectional semifinal game, an emotional Butler spoke to his players and "the football family" about the program; about their commitment.

"When I came here, priority No. 1 was to change the football culture and the way the kids approach work, and they've done it," Butler said. "At this point, it's just a matter of in-school recruiting and getting those kids to buy in to the work ethic that the rest of them show.

"If we can do that, then we'll continue to gradually grow."

Butler told his seniors after that game that they're a part of the program until they walk across the stage and get their diplomas.

After the gathering, it appears many parents are hoping Butler will still be the coach when that happens.

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Can that be right? 17/22 seriously injured? Plus 9 others? If that is true, something is really wrong in that program.

-- Posted by Unbiased on Fri, Dec 21, 2012, at 10:47 AM

Really Unbiased ! This had/ has nothing to do with our program. Players get hurt all of the time. Our players were injuried playing other schools. We head knee, hand, ankles and head injuies.This didnt occur all at once. These injuries occur within the first four games of our season.

-- Posted by rbassett2012 on Fri, Dec 21, 2012, at 11:27 AM

Unbiased have you even been to a Cloverdale football game? If you have you apparently need to look closer at how hard everyone plays. So if you haven't been to a game then you have no room to be saying that our program ha problems because you have no idea.

-- Posted by Dbassett7874 on Fri, Dec 21, 2012, at 1:37 PM

If players are hurt that frequently, there is something wrong in their training or conditioning. That is in incredibly high injury rate, no matter how "hard" the kids are playing, and the coaches have to take some responsibility.

-- Posted by Unbiased on Sat, Dec 22, 2012, at 7:07 PM

Could be the fact that the athletic department doesn't support football. Equipment is old and coaches don't get the gear that they request. Football helmets hadn't even been reconditioned when Butler took the program over. It all goes to show that the Cloverdale High School administration doesn't care if football succeeds or not as long as it doesn't interfere with basketball.

-- Posted by ccsc on Sun, Dec 23, 2012, at 1:58 AM

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