Butler County high school football: What we learned on the first day of practice

Charles Chaney, Lionel Tipton and Kalon Fullerton
Butler County Times-Gazette

The state of Kansas kicked off all fall practices on Monday and that means the return of high school football.

While we attempted to go to as many schools as possible, the lightning in Butler County made it tough. We'll break them down into different days.

Here's what we learned from the first day of the 2021 season:

El Dorado is trying to kick it

Last year the El Dorado Wildcats didn't kick an extra point once and you could say it cost them. Their playoff lost lass year to Wamego was separated by three points, all three point could have been made up by extra points since they missed their two-point conversion attempts.

This year, the Wildcats are attempting to get someone to put the ball through the uprights as seniors Gavin Bell and Trip Baker are battling for place kicking duties. Bell handled some kickoff responsibilities last year but Baker is making a run at it.

"I think if I can establish myself here [as the kicker], I think this is a spot where I could really help my team," Baker said. "That's all I want to do, whether it be offense, defense or special teams, I just I just want to help us win."

While head coach Wes Bell believes the ability to score a two-point conversion can give his team leg up. He's at least realizing they need to win special teams points to advance even more and Baker is one trying to help.

"I'm excited that this spot is opened up," Baker said.

Rose Hill learning how to be tough

The Rose Hill Rockets broke out of the first practice of the 2021 season with the phrase “toughness wins."

It’s more than just a mantra for head coach Lee Weber’s team. It’s the philosophy that will guide them through the season. Rose Hill is looking to improve on a 6-4 season that saw them end the regular season on a six-game winning streak before losing in the second round of the playoffs to Buhler.

When asked what he looked to focus on in the first few days of practice, coach Weber’s answer coincided with that “toughness wins” philosophy.

“Being physical, and executing what we do, and trying to fill out some spots on our line,” Weber said.

Weber, in his 21st year of coaching football, will look to his experienced players to step into leadership roles for a younger group this season. 

“We have a good group of older guys who have played here and we have a couple of good linemen who will be good leaders," Weber said. "We have a couple guys who are good leaders who haven’t played as much but they’ve been kind of leaders with our younger program."

Rose Hill kicks off the season on Sept. 3 at Andale.

Circle starts their revenge tour

Circle football’s recent struggles have most often been tied to the Thunderbirds’ youth and inexperience.

This year, that excuse is off the table.

“We have some seniors who have started since their sophomore year,” fifth-year head coach Logan Clothier said. “We have about 17-20 seniors this year (and) 11 juniors, and quite a few of those are starters, too.

“In our league (AVCTL Division III), you’ve got to have juniors and seniors to be able to win consistently.”

Senior Luke McGinnis returns to run the offense, and Clothier said he is a terrific leader and a great athlete.

“If you’re going to hand-pick a quarterback for your leader, that’s kind of who you’d choose,” Clothier said.

The T-Birds will begin a revenge tour of sorts, starting in Week 1 with a return game at home against Chanute on Sept. 3. Chanute stung Circle late in the game a year ago for a 16-14 victory.

“That is one that we definitely left a sour taste in our mouth,” Clothier said.

McGinnis and the seniors won an eighth-grade title, and he said they’ve been trying to recapture that glory.

“I think we might surprise some people this year,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of confidence.”

Charles Chaney has been the Sports Editor for the Butler County Times-Gazette since Aug. 2019. You can reach him at cchaney@butlercountytimesgazette.com or on Twitter at @ChuckChaneyBCTG.