Butler football strives to take the next step forward

Will Marty and Pace Temple celebrate following a play last season. The pair are serving as captains for the team this year. Collegian file photo.

JAROD LIPSON | STAFF REPORTER | jlipson@butler.edu

The Butler University football team will look to build upon their winning record last season. The Bulldogs finished above .500 with a 6-5 mark after going 4-7 in 2016.

In order to make any noise in the Pioneer Football League, however, they’ll need to take another leap this year.

Butler begins the season on Sept. 1 in Youngstown, Ohio, where they’ll take on the Youngstown State Penguins.

Head coach Jeff Voris, ready to lead Butler for his 13th season, said he is optimistic about the team.

“If you show up every day and you work to be a good teammate, you work to improve your craft, and we show up every day and just take care of the now, I think we have the potential to have a really good season,” Voris said.

Key contributors returning on the offensive side of the ball for the Bulldogs include senior receiver Pace Temple and redshirt senior quarterback Will Marty, both of whom will serve as offensive captains.

Temple returns as a preseason All-PFL selection after being named to the First Team All-PFL last season. He became only the fourth player in Butler history to register over 1,000 receiving yards in a season last year.

“He’s constantly working on his on his game and his craft and I think he’s stronger, faster and quicker,” Voris said. “He has better knowledge of the game and he really holds himself to a high standard. He set the bar high and he’s one of those guys that wants to keep pushing that bar higher.”

Marty took over as starting quarterback to begin last season and threw for 2,198 yards and seven touchdowns in 2017.

Similar to Voris, he said the team can’t afford to get bogged down by long-term aspirations.

“Obviously, the ultimate goal is to win a PFL championship,” Marty said. “But I think with that you’ve got to have a short-term mindset as well. You’ve got to go 1-0 each week in order to do that and you can’t let the previous week beat you two weeks in a row. As we grow closer together as a team and just compete each and every day in practice, I think that’ll take care of itself.”

The offense lost DuVante Lane, last year’s starting running back and 2017 honorable mention for the All-PFL team, to graduation.

On defense, junior linebacker Mason Brunner and senior defensive back Dalton Rogers return as key contributors and captains.

Brunner is coming off of an honorable mention All-PFL campaign in which he amassed 53 tackles. Additionally, he had three tackles for loss, including one sack.

The Bulldogs lost the league’s leader in average solo tackles per game in Isaak Newhouse, who also graduated last year. Newhouse gathered 96 tackles, averaging out to 6.4 per game.

Rogers is coming off a 13-tackle season that also included three tackles for loss. Essential to the team’s success is leadership, Rogers said, whether it comes from the captains or other players.

“It’s not just the four guys that were selected,” Rogers said. “There’s also 104 other guys that are here to motivate, to lead by example and to lead with passion because we can’t get it done with four guys.”

Also returning for the Bulldogs is junior kicker Drew Bevelhimer, who was named to the All-PFL team this preseason as well as last season.

Butler will host Morehead State University for homecoming on Sept. 29 and Stetson University on Nov. 10 for senior day, which marks the last home game of the season.

The Bulldogs conclude the regular season in North Carolina against the Davidson Wildcats on Nov. 17.

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