Aviators bring talent, experience to new season

VANDALIA — The 2017 Butler Aviators under second year head coach Nathan Hyatt will look to build on a promising 2016 season that was perhaps better than its 5-5 record would indicate.

A year ago the Aviators lost their starting quarterback after just one game that forced sophomore Mason Motter into the role a year earlier than projected. Motter responded by throwing for 1,313 yards and 12 touchdowns in nine games.

Flip any one of three close losses – at Massillon Perry, at Tipp, or at home versus Piqua and the Aviators would have found an unlikely playoff bid in their grasp.

“I think we have come a long way from a year ago,” said Hyatt. “Athleticly we are bigger, stronger, faster, we averaged around 48 kids on the honor roll, and our kids do a lot of the right things. Our workouts are highly difficult and the kids have worked very hard. We need to get better up front but they are getting there.”

Hyatt is optimistic coming into the new season and the Aviator appear to be loaded at their skill positions and could be poised to light up the scoreboard.

“Mason (Motter) is so focused on becoming a great quarterback,” said Hyatt. “He studies, he watches film, he’s calm, cool, collected, he’s gotten bigger and stronger. He needs to get a little more vocal, but I have the highest expectations for Mason.

Backing up Motter will be Alex Joynes and Kort Justice.

“Both of those guys show a lot of ability,” Hyatt said.

The Aviators return running back Logan Flatt who ran for 1,131 yards a year ago. Jabari Wortham also returns after running for 235 yards. Junior Ryan Martin will also see some time at running back but will also line up as a slot receiver.

Returning at receiver is Treylann Sanders who caught 35 passes for 805 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016. Bryant Johnson, Daiton Sharp, and Jack Mitchell will also see time at receiver.

“Trey could have a special season if things fall into place,” said Hyatt. “He has Division I talent.

No offense can compete without an offensive line and while some questions remain, Hyatt believes he has the personnel to be effective.

“You’ve been at practice – you see how they have transformed their bodies,” said Hyatt. “Coach (Jeremy) LaVoie is a wizard – he’s not quite right, but is there a good weight room guy that is? I don’t know that there is. But look at Ben Sipos, Hunter O’Cull, Dillon Buchanan, Will, Charles – you look at all these guys and their bodies and what they have done – now we have to play more physical. That’s the real question – are we going to be physical enough up front?

“I’ve seen a lot of competition and a little meanness this fall. The offensive line has to be the meanest and nastiest guys on the field because they have all 11 guys coming at them. I think they have a world of potential and I think they will get there.”

Hyatt said that the Aviators will have a new look on defense this season coordinated by veteran coach Eric Gillespie. Anchoring the defensive line will be Quentin Glover, Charlie Dent, Will Long, Charles Ellington, KJ Dorsey, Ethan Cyrette, and Leland Skapik with many of them playing both ways. Butler has a little more size that could help make a difference.

“We are excited on the defensive line, we think we have some depth and can be very good,” said Hyatt. “We aren’t the biggest guys in the world, but I really like watching our inside linebackers running around.”

Those include Nick Coyle, Jack Akers, and Jansen Love.

On the outside, the “Aviator Bombers” include Jake DeMoss, Dolen Fults, and corners Daiton Sharp, Trey Sanders, Nick Murphy, Connor Hendricks, and Jack Mitchell at free safety.

Kicking for the Aviators will be Andrew Boren, Sutton Skapic, and Jake Demoss.

“We are light years from last year in the kicking game,” said Hyatt. “Coach (Matt) Mitchell does a marvelous job with the kickers. We have come a long way.”

The Aviators face a daunting schedule beginning in Week 1 and traditional power Massillon Perry. Road games at at Wilmington, Stebbins, and a Thursday Night Lights tilt at Northmont (the Team Across the Dam) all face the Aviators before they face a GWOC North foe.

The GWOC North features Troy and Tippecanoe, both who qualified for the playoffs a year ago while Sidney is expected to be a strong contender for the league title.

A tough schedule could mean that despite dropping to OHSAA Division III this season, a playoff spot may be harder to come by.

“We are going to play some very good football teams,” said Hyatt. “We will play a very tough schedule this year. We talk about the intersection of two circles – what we can control, and what matters. That’s all we can do.”

Hyatt says coaching football is about more than winning games – even though that’s important.

“If you are going to tell your coach you better get to nine or 10 wins, I’m not your guy,” he said. “I had a guy ask me what I thought about last year and I told him ask me in 20 years when those guys are 38 years old. I really mean that. I believe strongly that what this community and school district wants is for us to be the best football program we can be, and I believe when we do that we will compete on the field and we will win a lot of football games. But we can put kids on the honor roll and make the right decisions and still do those things. I tell the kids if they just want to be average then stay away from this program – we are evaluating them on and off the field.”

Hyatt said he is thankful for the support shown by the student body, administration, and the larger community.

“We can’t do this without their support,” he said. “It means a lot. They are a huge part of our program even though they aren’t playing. I love being the head coach of Butler football.”

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The 2017 Butler Aviators will open their season Friday, August 25 at home hosting Massillon Perry. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
https://www.vandaliadrummernews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/19/2017/08/web1_Football-1.jpgThe 2017 Butler Aviators will open their season Friday, August 25 at home hosting Massillon Perry. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Butler will host Massillon Perry Friday at 7 p.m.

By Darrell Wacker


2017 Butler Aviators

Aug. 25 Massillon Perry

Sep. 1 Tecumseh

Sep. 8 @Wilmington

Sep. 14 @Northmont

Sep. 22 @Stebbins

Sep. 29 Greenville

Oct. 6 @Troy

Oct. 13 @Piqua

Oct. 20 Sidney

Oct. 27 Tippecanoe

Note: All games are at 7 p.m.

Bold denotes home game

Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.