CENTERVILLE — Butler’s new football coach is nothing if not intense, and that high-energy style is taking hold over the Aviator football program.
Last week the Aviators hosted Springboro and Northridge for a 7-on-7 competition and traveled to Centerville for a joint practice and 7-on-7 that lasted nearly four hours.
Puckett, who was defensive coordinator for the Elks prior to taking the top position at Butler, said working with and competing against historically successful programs will make the Aviators better. Centerville was 10-2 a year ago which included a 35-0 win over Hilliard Darby in the opening round of the playoffs.
“I think the harder we can make it on ourselves in the summer, the easier tough situations will be in the fall,” said Puckett. “You can’t just place yourself in a tough situation in game one and expect your kids to react if we aren’t constantly putting them in touch situations throughout the entire summer. We are trying to get tougher by playing tougher competition which puts more pressure on them to perform so when it comes down a tough situation they know how to react.”
Puckett has learned a lot about the team since being named the head coach through weight lifting during the spring and summer workouts.
“They are a hell of a lot tougher than I thought they were,” said Puckett. “It’s not that I didn’t know that, but they responded really well. When I watched them on film from last year to seeing them compete now is very different. They have been open-minded, embraced everything that our coaching staff has put in front of them, they have attacked everything, they are working really, really hard and the seniors are phenomenal leaders. It’s been fantastic.”
Each of the Aviators wore a practice jersey that featured a black flag which Puckett uses to evoke the spirit of pirates. During a team meeting in January he explained his philosophy of the team’s “black flag” honor which will be awarded to one defensive and one offensive player each week.
“I don’t want you to give it to me, you aren’t going to take it from me, but I’m going to do what I can to take it from you,” he said. “There’s something about competition where you find out who you truly are. In adversity, and in the face of success, you find out who you really are.”
Puckett says intensity and tempo will work together to make his team “fight ready.”
“Part of our attitude is to be fight ready, and you can’t be fight ready if you are lollygagging up to the ball or just walking and meandering around,” said. “When you are fight ready, you attack it and as soon as the ball is ready for play we are ready to go. Everything we do we will be ready to fight right now. We will be ready to compete at the drop of a hat. We aren’t going to wait for someone to hit us in the mouth first, we are going to attack everything. We will practice that way and play that way. I think you win a lot of high school football games with attitude, effort, and toughness and that’s the three things we are really focusing on.”
The Aviators will take that fight on the road for their first two games. Butler will travel to Harrison High School on Friday, August 24 to open the season and then travel to Tecumseh on Aug. 31 for Week 2.
Butler will host Wilmington on Sept. 7 in their home opener in the Blake LaForce Play for a Cure game. Week 4 will see the Aviators host the Team Across the Dam (Northmont) in a Thursday Night Lights tilt on Sept. 13.
They will then host Xenia on Sept. 21 before opening the final season of Greater Western Ohio Conference play at Greenville on Sept. 28.
October brings Troy to town for Homecoming on Oct. 5 and Piqua will visit on Oct. 12. Butler closes the regular season with road games at Sidney and Tippecanoe.