State Colleges

Tested Butler defense takes on high-octane Highland

Every year, the fraternity of players that make up the Butler Community College defense continues to grow. And over that time, maybe, it has become something more than just a bunch of guys who played college football together.

For example, they have created their own language. Listen to them talk to each other at practice and watch them interact on Twitter and Facebook and you’ll understand immediately.

A “Little Jimmy” is a young player who comes into the program. A “Craze Dawg” is a member of the Butler defense. “Chaos Tempo” is the pace at which the defense is expected to play.

To wit: “Little Jimmy came to Butler and turned into a Craze Dawg. He always played at Chaos Tempo.”

“It’s something that was inititated by (Butler associated head coach) Steve Braet, and I just loved everything about it,” said Butler defensive coordinator Tim Schaffner, who is in his ninth season. “And over the years it’s taken on a clubbish, fraternity, secret-society type of deal where the guys feel like they’re part of a special defense. The play, as of late, has reflected that.”

Coming off last year’s sophomore-heavy, national runner-up team that led the Jayhawk Conference in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and sacks, there has been little to no dropoff this year as the Grizzlies are off to a 4-0 start and ranked No. 4 in the country headed into Saturday night’s game against Highland (2-2, 1-1 Jayhawk) in El Dorado. And that’s with just one part-time starter back.

“We don’t feel like there’s just one star on the defense, we feel like we’re all stars, like we can all shine,” said Butler defensive end Gabe Luna, a Garden City native. “How we talk to each other, that’s just our … vernacular. We’re a big family.”

Butler leads the Jayhawk in sacks and has the top scoring defense and rushing defense in the league. The Grizzlies are second in total defense and pass defense behind Garden City.

“It’s kind of like being in a family in that you know your place and the sophomores are the older brothers, but you know eventually they’ll be gone and you’ll have to take their place,” Schaffner said. “And when they leave, you’re going to have to be the head of the household. It doesn’t take very long for us to talk to the freshmen in December, after the season’s over, and tell them they have to do what it takes to keep that tradition, to become part of that lore and that history.”

Highland, coached by former Butler offensive coordinator Ryan Held, has the Jayhawk’s top offense, averaging 504.5 yards. Highland freshman quarterback Brandon Bergeron leads the league with 1,294 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions.

“Their schemes are good, their coach is good and a former Butler guy, so he knows us,” Butler sophomore defensive back Branden Dozier said. “The rest of our schedule is pretty tough, but that’s what helps us focus and prepare for the big games and settle into our routines. These are all well-coached, well-prepared teams we have coming up.”

Butler has four regular-season games left between now and Oct. 26, including two open weeks.

“This is an unusual year in Kansas, right now its hard to tell what’s up and what’s down,” Schaffner said. “Some teams we’ve already played may end up ranked, or one of the best teams in the conference, and we may have the meat of our schedule still coming up. We have to be prepared for anything.”

All part of being a Little Jimmy. Or a Craze Dawg.

“My son, Brady, is 3 years old and he’s always at practice and everybody calls him Little Jimmy,” Schaffner said, laughing. “And it makes him so mad, he’s always like, ‘My name’s Brady, not Jimmy,’ and it cracks us up. It’s our term of endearment.”