Once again, the Butler Community College football team will play for a national title.
The Grizzlies, 11-0 and ranked No. 2 in the final NJCAA poll released Sunday, accepted a bid to play No. 1 Iowa Western (also 11-0), in the Graphic Edge Bowl on Dec. 2 at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Midwest Football Conference Commissioner Thom McDonald extended the invitation to Butler around noon on Tuesday.
Butler has finished 11-1 the last two seasons. The Grizzlies last played for the national title in the 2010 Citizens Bank Bowl in Pittsburg, losing 13-12 to Navarro (Texas) College.
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“Being on the outside looking in last year, it feels good to get a chance to play for the title again,” Butler coach Troy Morrell said. “It feels good for the sophomores to have that opportunity. I never take (playing for national titles) for granted. Someone asked me about it the other day and I told them each year it gets sweeter when you can make it to this point because every year it gets tougher and tougher to get to that point.”
Iowa Western, champion of the Midwest Football Conference, has only had a football team for four years. The Reivers are coached by Scott Strohmeier.
Butler has won six national titles and played for the title 10 times. The Grizzlies’ last titles came in 2007 and 2008.
“They’ve won more national championships than we have seasons played,” Strohmeier told the Council Bluffs (Iowa) Nonpareil. “Now, you’ve got the opportunity to see how you stack up against them.
“Our league doesn’t get much respect. Even though we’re No. 1, I still don’t think we do. I don’t expect it. You’ve got to earn it. We’ve got an opportunity to earn something. I guess we’ll find out on Dec. 2.”
Butler players had an inkling they would be headed to Iowa after Sunday’s 26-16 win over No. 14 Hutchinson in El Dorado in the Region VI championship game.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Butler quarterback Billy Cosh said. “We’re looking forward to going to Iowa, to getting to play in the dome. This is what we’ve been working for.”
Iowa Western allows 20 out-of-state players on its roster and also offers full scholarships. Butler has 12-out-of-state players on its roster, and could expand to 16 for the bowl game because of a new Jayhawk Conference rule. Morrell said that wasn’t really an option.
“I just couldn’t see taking the redshirt off somebody for just one game,” Morrell said. “We’ve played three or four games with 10 out-of-starters because of different injuries.”