Ask Butler Community College football coach Troy Morrell about the nine Region VI title games he's coached, and you won't get a story about 2008, when his team rallied with 19 points in the fourth quarter to beat Hutchinson 29-14. The Grizzlies ended that season with their second straight national title.
He also won't tell you about 2003, when his team rallied from a 38-3 second-half deficit to beat Coffevyille 45-38.
They won the national title that year, too.
Ranked No. 1 in the country and with a shot at another NJCAA title — this time with the bowl game likely at Pittsburg — if they can beat No. 5 Hutchinson in the Region VI title game this afternoon at El Dorado, Morrell clings to none of the victories that have come to define his program.
He remembers four overtimes. He remembers too many men on the field. He remembers 2000. He remembers the final score was Garden City 23, Butler 17.
Garden City athletic director Bob Larson was the coach for the Broncbusters that day.
"Isn't that something?" Larson said, laughing. "He can't forget about that, and I can't forget about losing the national title game a month later. When you're a coach, those are the games you take to your grave."
Morrell, in his first year as coach, was trying to lead Butler to its third straight national title.
"If we win it, we're going for our third title in a row, which is unprecedented," Morrell said. "And with three seconds to play they miss a 51-yard field goal to tie it. We're going crazy, celebrating on the field, just elated.
"And there was a flag. Too many men on the field. They get 15 yards and (the kicker) nails it. Four overtimes later and they're headed to the national title game. I still think about that game a lot, and in my time here at Butler if there's one game that I could have to do over, that might be it."
And it's those type of memories that are keeping Butler (10-0) focused on its rematch with the Blue Dragons after posting a 28-0 victory in their initial meeting, when the teams were ranked 1-2 in the country. Butler's defense allowed just 73 yards in the win.
"I've brought that up many times, to not let that game influence this one," Morrell said. "With the Region VI title game, in particular, I've made a point to re-emphasize that point. We know if we win, we get to play for the national title. It's as simple as that."
The Blue Dragons still have an outside shot at the national title and will host a bowl game, the Salt City Bowl, on Dec. 5.
If Butler were to win, they would likely play in the Citizens Bank Bowl on Dec. 6 at Pittsburg, where current Auburn quarterback Cam Newton led Blinn to a 31-26, come-from-behind win over Fort Scott in last year's national title game.
The Grizzlies played in a national title game in Kansas once before under Morrell, losing to Pearl River (Miss.)35-14 in the Dalton Defenders Bowl at Coffeyville in 2004.
"We had a chance once before to win a title in Kansas and it didn't turn out so well," Morrell said. "To get another shot would be a dream come true."