2011-04-19 / Front Page

New Head Football Coach John Butler Off And Running At CHS

Cloverdale Community Looks To Be An Ideal Fit For Butler & Family
by Michael Stanley Staff Writer

New CHS head football coach John Butler runs through agility drills with Cloverdale Elementary School students Thursday afternoon during a youth football skills camp. (Staff Photo) New CHS head football coach John Butler runs through agility drills with Cloverdale Elementary School students Thursday afternoon during a youth football skills camp. (Staff Photo) Recently realizing his goal of heading a high school football program, coach John Butler has been busy transitioning from a wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator at a 5A high school with a Division One college athlete at running back a season ago, to a now Class A Cloverdale squad with some talent in the tailback position itself.

Butler comes from Bloomington High School North, where he spent five of the last six seasons on the sidelines. His 2006 school year and football season was replaced by a U.S. Army Reserves deployment to Iraq. He has since received his discharge paperwork after 12 years, as he and his wife prepare for the head coaching family life.

“My wife and I felt it was time for us to go somewhere that suits our family personality a little better, we’ve lived in Bloomington for 13 years now,” Butler said. “With our kids getting in school, my daughter’s in first grade and my son will start kindergarten, we just wanted to get back to a community like we were raised in. We just feel more comfortable with it, plus my teaching and coaching aspirations of being a head coach was my career goal, and it’s just a perfect fit for us (at Cloverdale).”

Six-year-old Emma Hunter, a kingergartener at Cloverdale Elementary School, sprints her way through an obstacle course of cones with the football Thursday afternoon. Emma is the daughter of Tim and Megan Hunter. (Staff Photo) Six-year-old Emma Hunter, a kingergartener at Cloverdale Elementary School, sprints her way through an obstacle course of cones with the football Thursday afternoon. Emma is the daughter of Tim and Megan Hunter. (Staff Photo) A native of Lebanon, Butler began his coaching on the gridiron as an assistant coach at Eastern Greene High School, where he helped establish the program for the 2003- 2004 season. Last Monday, Wednesday and Thursday were spent on the Clovers’ practice field conducting a youth skills camp with the help of assistant coach Brad Szczerbik.

“It was rough (starting the program at EGHS). The big difference is that (the skills camp) is my first real experience of coaching in the community. You can just tell it’s tighter knit, everybody knows everybody here and that’s not the case in Blooming- ton. You could have kids who go to the same school who have never met each other, with 1,600 kids in the building, that’s just the culture there. It’s nice here, it’ll be easier to keep track of kids and getting to know them from K-12 and a lot quicker. That’s the biggest difference so far, people are very excited about football in this town. That’s a great thing, especially when the small schools in southwest Indiana tend to be basketball oriented.”

Butler noted that while in the interview process he looked into the Clovers’ past seasons’ wins, losses and tournament history, but also took a look at the numbers turning out and a promising senior class.

“You look at how many kids they’ve had on the team, see if there are trends before you got there. They have been consistent having a good portion of their boy population come out for football, which is good and we hope to get more,” Butler said. “That’s one of my goals, especially with the junior class, we don’t have a lot this year. This group of seniors, I focused on them in the interview process and now, just getting prepared for the season, the summer, and keeping the transition as minimal as possible. They’re going to have a different offense and probably a different defense, just keeping things simple for them so they can make the reads we need them to make and just worry about playing football, to have fun.”

He noted the opportunity he and his team have moving from a small 2A school a year ago, to a larger Class A school now.

“Football wise, it’s a great situation to be in here, plus having these seniors coming back, if we do things right as a staff, the kids will have some success this year,” Butler added.

The move from Class 2A to A comes after a recent Indiana High School Athletic Association reassignment based on school population for all member high schools in the state.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to compete in a 1A sectional. We have long been at the bottom of the 2A cut and now feel we are in a sectional we can be highly competitive in,” CHS Athletic Director James Wade said. “We will continue to play in a great football conference and schedule which will prepare us for our new sectional alignment.”

Butler is still looking into his coaching staff for the 2011-2012 season.

“We’re still in the process of identifying coaches and getting the varsity and junior varsity staffs squared away,” he said. “Coach Archer is going to coach and other coaches who have coached in previous years have expressed interest. Along with the kids, these coaches are going to have to learn a new offense and defense. It’s important to keep it simple for the staff so they can teach the kids what they need to know and trying to take advantage of these seniors, because they’re a good group.”

Butler has his current focus on logistics for his team so that both players, parents and coaches stay informed on the program.

“It’s about keeping the transition pains to a minimum and making sure the kids and parents have a schedule for the summer. I want to make sure the parents know there is a plan to teach them, make them better and give them something to do so they can plan their summers out,” he explained. “We need to get them in to get work done, but also making sure they have time to be kids. The other part is getting to know everybody, the staff, the teaching staff and administrators I’ll be working with. We’ll have meetings every now and then, parent meetings are set up throughout the spring and summer. I want to make sure everybody has the information they need, that goes a long way with parents being motivated to let their kids play football. Being organized as the head coach, making sure there is a plan and logistics are taken care of is my focus right now. Knowing people is everything.”

The new Cloverdale offensive and defensive strategies are still under wraps.

“We’re going to run the ball and we’ll look very familiar to how Bloomington North played offense last year,” Butler said. “When you get a kid who just broke the school record in rushing, we’re going to make sure we have pretty decent linemen and we’re going to run the football. I think we’ll be okay, we just have to make sure we develop good linemen. Defensively, it depends on bodies, we have to evaluate the kids and see what types of bodies we have. The months of May and June will be my evaluation time, game film from last year is really all I have.”

Butler will have little trouble adjusting to a team where defensive and offensive starters are identical.

“I was coordinating defense in my first year of coaching and I learned more what not to do than anything else, but I’ve been fortunate enough in the years I’ve been coaching to coordinate on both sides,” he explained. “I’ve also coached every position on both sides, I’ve been able to learn from it and I’m a head coach now because I have coached all of the positions. Coming here and having that experience is going to let me direct my staff in the right direction, give them guidance on what I’m looking for from their positions and let them coach it, not micromanage them. For the kids, I’m going to let the staff evaluate them and give them suggestions, I think where my experience comes into play is not micromanaging them. The guys who coach football at the high school level don’t do it for the money, they do it because they love the sport. So if you micromanage them, you’re going to run them off. I want to use my experience to help make my staff better, cut them loose and let them do their work. I can’t wait to get going.”

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