With the NJCAA moving all sports to the spring semester, the Butler Grizzlies football team released a tentative schedule on Monday afternoon with three of the first four games on the road to start the season.
Butler, who was a preseason No. 3 in multiple preseason publications, are expected to be one of the best teams fighting for a national championship, something which has eluded Butler since 2008.
Butler opens the season at Independence on Sunday, March 28. The resurgent program, who grew some national fame from Last Chance U, are the reigning KJCCC Champions. Coached by Kiyoshi Harris, the Pirates are becoming an annual threat to win the conference. Independence beat Butler last season after the Grizzlies had more than 10 players suspended due to an after game altercation the previous week.
Their first home game will be against rival Hutch at home on Saturday, April 3. Last season, the Grizzlies fell to Hutchinson after a wild finish. Butler fell behind 21-0 before fighting back into it. Butler had the ball late and driving but a last minute penalty sealed their hopes. It lived up to the No. 1 vs. No. 2 hype which had been built before the game. Under new head coach Drew Dallas, there will be some changes for the Blue Dragons. However, the Blue Dragons are a pick to contend for a national title.
They head back on the road for a Week 3 game on Sunday, April 11 against Dodge City. While the Conqs were not very good last season, they should be much improved under Ricky Coon’s second season. Butler beat Dodge 31-10 in a game where the score was closer than the actual game.
After a Week 4 bye, Butler travels to rival Coffeyville on Sunday, April 25. Butler beat the Red Ravens 33-13. Butler scored unanswered 20 points in the second half to put Coffeyville away. The Red Ravens made a change at the coaching helm. Athletic Director Jeff Leiker will take over a program that thrived under him previously. Maybe the rivalry between the two will return under Leiker.
After three road games in their first four games, the Grizzlies finally return back to BG Products Veterans Sports Complex as they host Highland under first year head coach Jeff Hancock on Sunday, May 2. The Grizzlies have won seven straight games, dating back to 2013, against Highland. Butler beat Highland 33-7 last year in a part of Butler’s strong run to start the season.
Butler will host their only non-conference opponent, Arkansas Baptist College, on Sunday, May 9. Arkansas Baptist is an independent program and are considered the NJCAAs only HBCU (Historically Black College and Universities) program They have come a long way since their 0-9 season in 2015. They went 5-5 last season, playing a mix of NJCAA schools and prep teams. ABC will play most KJCCC teams this season.
In their last road game, Butler will travel to play Fort Scott on Sunday, May 16. The Greyhounds are coming off one of their best seasons in the last decade. However, due to a paperwork issue, they were forced to forfeit some games, giving the conference title to Independence. Butler beat Fort Scott 10-7 last season in a defensive affair. First year head coach Carson Hunter takes over for Kale Pick, who resigned to take a job at Rice.
To wrap up the season, Butler and Garden City will play on Sunday, May 23 at BG Products Veterans Sports Complex. This game may be for the conference title and a right to play for a national title. Both teams played in a thriller last season, with Nick Davenport coming in as the third string quarterback to beat Garden City and knock them out of the National Title game.
All dates are subject to change but for now, this is what the Grizzlies have released. It’s a start to restarted junior college athletics.