Butler Tabbed Seventh In Pioneer Football League

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Butler, faced with replacing 15 starters from a year ago, has been picked to finish seventh in the annual Pioneer Football League preseason coaches’ poll.  Defending PFL co-champion San Diego was the favorite among the coaches to repeat as league champion in the poll released on Monday (July 30).

San Diego received eight of a possible nine first place votes and 79 of 81 possible points from PFL coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own team.  Drake, which shared last year’s title with the Toreros, received one first place vote and 71 total points to finish second in the poll.  Both teams posted a 7-1 league record a year ago.

Jacksonville, the favorite last season, was picked third in the coaches’ poll with 65 points, while Dayton, with one first place vote and 56 total points, was tabbed fourth.  Campbell rounded out the top half of the poll with 45 points, followed by Marist (42 points), Butler (34 points), Morehead State (27 points), Davidson (20 points) and Valparaiso (11 points).

Butler seventh-year head coach Jeff Voris will be seeking to replace a number of key performers from last year’s 5-6 squad, including quarterback Andrew Huck and all-time leading receiver Zach Watkins.    Huck finished his career in second place on Butler’s all-time passing list with 6,560 career passing yards, while Watkins finished with school records for career pass receptions (254) and career receiving yards (2,994).

The Bulldogs also graduated first team All-PFL offensive lineman Pete Mattingly, second team all-league defensive performers Nick Caldicott (LB) and Andy Dauch (DB) and honorable mention all-league players David Lang (PK), Grant Hunter (DL) and Jordan Koopman (WR).

But the Bulldogs’ cupboard isn’t empty.  Heading a corps of eight returning regulars is senior linebacker Jordan Ridley, who has led the PFL in tackles for two straight years.  A two-time, first team All-PFL performer, Ridley ranked among the national leaders in the NCAA Division I FCS in both total tackles (140) and assists (94) in 2011.  He enters his final season with more than 300 career tackles!

Also on hand from a year ago is second team All-PFL running back Trae Heeter, who led the Bulldogs and ranked fourth in the PFL with 713 rushing yards.  He’s joined on offense by a pair of honorable mention All-PFL players, Matt Storey (OL) and Matt Jenson (TE).  Junior defensive back Sean Grady, who tied for sixth in the PFL with three pass interceptons a year ago, also earned honorable mention on the 2011 all-league team.

Other returning regulars for the Bulldogs are junior defensive lineman Jeremy Stephens, junior linebacker Phillip Powell and junior defensive back Jayme Szfranski.  Voris will have a total of 31 returning letterwinners on hand when the Bulldogs begin fall camp on Sunday, August 5.