EL DORADO — The Butler Grizzlies are heading to the Midwest Classic Bowl as a reward for knocking off previously third-ranked Garden City on Saturday, Nov. 8 in Miami, Oklahoma. Butler won the 2018 Midwest Classic with a 34-30 win over host NEO and are looking to take two of the three all-time results in the bowl game.
This will be the final year for the Midwest Classic Bowl. According organizers of the bowl game, they were unable to secure corporate sponsorship before the bowl application deadline. The bowl game will have lasted three seasons with Independence winning the first year over Northeastern Oklahoma A&M 30-20. Butler won last year over NEO 34-30.
The Grizzlies won 34-27 behind the heroics of third string quarterback, Nick Davenport. The freshman from Ell Saline came in and wowed a crowd that had been yearning for some offense.
The Grizzlies are looking for their first 10-win season since 2012 when they won 11 games and lost in the National Championship to Iowa Western.
Butler (9-3) will play Trinity Valley Community College. The Cardinals are often known for their explosive, fast pace offense and could pose a challenge for the Butler defense. The Cardinals are 7-3 on the season, with a regular season ending loss to Navarro in the SWJCFC semifinals.
The Cardinals are one of the top offenses in JUCO football. Their 459.7 yards per game is sixth best. Their passing yards of 257.9 yards per game is sixth best as well.
Led by redshirt sophomore Jeremy Hunt under center... or should I say from the shotgun, the sophomore has thrown for over 2,200 yards and 20 touchdowns. He has multiple Division I offers. His backfield is field with a plethora of runners who have over 200 yards each. Four different runners have at least 200 yards, no more than 465 by Nate Davis.
Hunt likes to spread it around. There are nine different receivers who've caught at least 10 passes. No one has mor ethan 30 receptions. However, sophomore Keonta Fiakpui has five touchdowns receptions to lead the Cardinals. 11 different players have a touchdown reception.
The Cardinals are turnover prone. They're averaging 1.5 turnovers per game, so expect a Grizzlies defense that already is swarming as one of the best in the nation, to get after the ball.
On the defensive side, Race Moser leads the Cardinals defense. He was named the SWJCFC Defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday. He has 119 tackles (49 solos, 70 assisted) and was the third-leading tackler in the nation.
The Cardinals are coached by Sherard Poteete. He's a first year head coach who was the offensive coordinator before being promoted after the previous head coach left for a Division II position.
Butler got here by going 6-2 in the KJCCC and 9-3 overall. They have five wins over ranked teams this season, including three straight to open the season.
Butler and Trinity Valley will meet for the first time since 2011 when they met in the 2011 Citizen's Bank Bowl in Pittsburg, Kansas. Butler won that game 21-17. The Grizzlies are 4-1 all-time against the Cardinals. Their only loss coming in their first ever match up in 2002. Since then, Butler has won four straight.
Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. in Miami, Oklahoma at Red Robertson Field, home of Northeastern A&M.