SEASON KICKOFF: Butler will begin the
2009 football season on the home turf when it hosts Albion on
Saturday, Sept. 5. The non-league opener is slated for 1 p.m.
(ET) at the Butler Bowl. The Bulldogs will be facing Albion
in a season-opener for the sixth consecutive year. Albion
captured the first three games of that stretch, dating back to
2004, but the Bulldogs have won the last two, including a 20-6
decision last season in Michigan. That victory helped propel
the Bulldogs to six wins in the first seven games of 2008 and their
first winning season in more than a decade. Butler finished
the 2008 campaign with a 6-5 record and a tie for fourth place in
the Pioneer Football League. The six wins matched the
Bulldogs’ second-highest victory total since 1993, when
Butler moved its football program from the NCAA Division II to the
NCAA Division I. The Bulldogs have won two of three
season-openers since Jeff Voris took over as head coach in
Butler is 8-5 in September under head coach Jeff Voris.
ON THE AIR: For the fifth straight year, Butler football games will be broadcast on XL 950 (AM) in Indianapolis and streamed on the internet at BigPlayProductions.com. Play-by-play duties for the Bulldogs again will be handled by Brian Giffin, and he’ll be joined in the booth by former Butler football coach Ken LaRose. This weekend’s game against Albion will be carried live, starting with a pre-game show at 12:40 p.m. (ET).
VETERAN CAST: Head coach Jeff Voris can call on 36 letterwinners, including 14 starters, from last year’s breakthrough squad. The Bulldogs have seven starters back on offense and seven back on defense. “We’re really experienced on both sides of the ball,” said Voris of his current squad. “We’ve had so many guys play and see action in key situations that we really can put experienced players at almost every position.” Fifteen of Butler’s returnees were in the starting lineup against Albion last year, and nine of those players are slated to start in this season’s meeting.
The Bulldogs return 21 players who started at least one game last season.
LEADING MEN: Seniors Dan Bohrer and Spencer Summerville have been selected as captains for the 2009 Butler squad by a vote of their teammates. Bohrer has been a starter in 22 consecutive games, heading into this season, and he has played in 32 games during his Butler career. He finished second in the Pioneer Football League in both receptions (71) and receiving yards (971) in 2008. Summerville was a starting safety in all 11 Butler games last year, and he’s played in 30 games during his first three seasons with the Bulldogs. He finished second on the team and 15th in the PFL in tackles last season. He also finished second on the team in kickoff returns. Butler head coach Jeff Voris will appoint additional captains on a game-by-game basis. Seniors Brian Crable and Derek Guggenberger have been tabbled as captains for the season-opener against Albion.
RUSH DELIVERY: Butler’s leading rusher from a year ago, Dionte Wiggins, is gone, but head coach Jeff Voris can call on three other tailbacks who have been in Butler’s starting lineup in the past. Leading that group is junior Scott Gray, who missed most of last season with injuries. Gray was Butler’s leading rusher and scorer in his first season with the Bulldogs two years ago. He made his collegiate debut against Albion, and wound up scoring four touchdowns on his first seven carries! He finished that first game with five touchdowns, one shy of Butler’s single game record. Also back this season are redshirt sophomore Ryan Hitchcock and senior Ricky Trujillo. Hitchcock was Butler’s third-leading rusher last season with 352 yards. Trujillo, who missed seven games with injury last season, was Butler’s third-leading rusher two years ago. He was in Butler’s starting lineup against Albion last year, and he finished as the Bulldogs leading rusher in the game with 45 yards.
Scott Gray has scored 17 touchdowns in 12 career games at Butler.
SACK TIME: Sophomore Grant
Hunter made his Butler debut against Albion last year, and
he recorded his first career quarterback sack in the game.
That started him on a season-long run that ended with a
league-leading 14 sacks, matching the second-highest total in
Butler football history! Hunter finished second in the
Pioneer Football League in tackles for loss with 18, and he tied
for second on the team in total tackles with 42.
Grant Hunter was Butler’s lone first team All-PFL player last year.
FAMILIAR FRONT: Four of the five offensive linemen who finished in Butler’s starting lineup a year ago are back this season. Leading that group is All-PFL guard Donny GIlmore, who has started 22 consecutive games for the Bulldogs. Also returning are senior tackle Brian Crable, junior tackle Mike Staniewicz and sophomore guard Pete Mattingly. Crable has started 21 straight games, while Staniewicz has started 21 of the last 22 Butler contests.
•Butler junior quarterback Matt Kobli will
not play against Albion. He is sitting out an indefinite
suspension for violation of team policies. Kobli set a school
record with 23 touchdown passes a year ago. Sophomore
Andrew Huck will get the starting nod for the
Bulldogs against Albion.
•The Bulldogs will have a couple of new faces handling kicking chores this fall. Placekicker Jordan Quiroz, who finished as Butler’s second-leading scorer in 2008, and punter Rob Blevins are gone. Taking over at placekicker will be sophomore David Lang, who handled Butler’s kickoff duties last season. Stepping in at punter will be redshirt freshman Michael Wilson, who transferred to Butler from the U. S. Naval Academy.
•Linebacker Derek Guggenberger has led the Bulldogs in tackles for two consecutive seasons. Guggenberger tied for sixth in the PFL in total tackles last season with 85. He and safety Spencer Summerville led the Bulldogs in tackles against Albion last year with nine apiece.
•Senior wide receiver Dan Bohrer needs three receptions to break Butler’s all-time record of 142 catches, set by Eric Voss, 1990-93. Bohrer enters this weekend’s season-opener with 140 career receptions.
•Dan Bohrer needs three touchdown catches to tie the Butler career record of 18, set by Mike Chrobot, 1975-78. Bohrer holds the school single season record for touchdown receptions (11), and he shares the Butler single game record (4).
•Wide receiver Eddie McHale had a career-high seven catches for 63 yards and one touchdown in last year’s game at Albion.
•Tailback Ryan Hitchcock saw his first collegiate action in last year’s game against Albion, and he finished with 37 rushing yards on seven carries.
•Junior cornerback Tadd Dombart, who led the PFL in punt returns last year, returned three punts for 77 yards against Albion in last year’s win. He had a 49-yard return against the Britons that set up Butler’s final touchdown in the fourth quarter. Two years ago, Dombart had a 54-yard punt return against Albion and that wound up being the Bulldogs’ longest punt return of 2007.
ON THIS DATE: On Sept. 5, 1992, the Bulldogs defeated Northern Michigan, 14-0, in Marquette, Mich. Butler went on to post an 8-2 record for the 1992 season.