Wildcats Season Ends In District Title Game At Butler

Adam Dean Howe
Enterprise Staff
Wildcats Season Ends In District 
Title Game At Butler
In a season classified as anything but normal, the 2020 Wildcats football team took a big step to return the program itself to perennial normalcy by making a return to the district championship game where they faced Butler but had their season ended in a 40-6 loss on the road last Friday night. 
The Wildcats finished their season with a 5-3 overall record and finished runner-up in the district championship game, a place where Coach Ryan Boyer expects his team to be for many years to come after an 11 year absence prior to this season. 
“This season has been the furthest thing from normal, but our kids handled everything that was thrown at them throughout the year,” Boyer said.  “This team took a big step to hopefully return the program to where we all want and expect it to be.”
The Butler squad that the ‘Cats faced on Friday night exhibited a well-rounded team that has the capability of making a deep run into the 2020 MSHSAA football playoffs.  A nearly unstoppable rushing game and a swarming defense presented problems for Warsaw all night.
The Bears “Dead T” offense was off and running early in the first when their first play from scrimmage resulted in a first down that took the ball inside the Warsaw 20 yard line.  Just a few plays later, the Bears’ Brendin Patrick skipped across the goal line on a 5 yard touchdown run.  Placekicker Jagur Eidson split the upright on the point-after-try and on their first possession, the home team took a 7-0 lead. 
Butler (11-0) held a 7-0 lead at the end of the opening period and the Wildcats had their chances, but inconsistencies on third down, including on their initial possession, gave Butler extra opportunities that the Wildcats defense could ill-afford.
“We needed to convert some third downs early and get some stops on defense, but we just weren’t able to do that,” Boyer added.
After a punt by the Wildcats’ Jack Gardner, Butler continued to gash the heart of the Green and Black defense as they took a two score lead on a 47 yard touchdown run by Brandon Melton just :16 second into the second quarter.  Eidson would nail the PAT again as Butler went up 14-0.
The Wildcats touchdown, unfortunately their only one of the evening, came midway through the second as they put together a nice drive on the ground.  Brady Slavens would run a quarterback keeper off of the left side of his line for a 53 yard gain and then Cameron Seevers would cap the drive with a 6 yard touchdown run.  Seevers would be hit at the line of scrimmage and take on several defenders, but he would not be denied on a tough run that put Warsaw on the board with 7:06 left in the first half, much to the delight of a large contingent of Wildcats fans who made the trek to Bates County and were well bundled on a chilly night.  The 2 point conversion attempt was stopped short, but the Wildcats had cut their deficit to 14-6. 
Exactly four minutes later though, the Bears had an answer for that score when Melton would score his second touchdown of the night on a 6 yard touchdown run to give the Bears a 21-6 lead over Warsaw at the half. 
To begin the second half, Warsaw began their drive on their own 18 yard line, but the Bears would force a turnover after Slavens hit Gardner on a crossing route, he was hit immediately, the ball popped into the air and was then recovered by Butler giving them a short field. 
At the 11:06 mark in the third, Melton would hit paydirt once again on a 9 yard touchdown run as the Bears began to stretch their lead.  Eidson was good on the PAT as Butler pulled ahead with a lead of 28-6.
The Bears would add two more TD runs, one late in the third and one late in the fourth to cap the scoring and take the 40-6 win at the final horn.
“Butler is a very good football team,” Boyer commented. 
“These games are always tough and we will miss our seniors,” Boyer concluded.
Slavens led the Wildcats offense with 89 rushing yards on 19 attempts.  He was also 6 of 15 passing for 98 yards and had 1 interception.  
Justin Martin added 31 yards on the ground on 9 carries and Seevers and Nick Bagley had 8 and 6 yards, respectively.  Seevers had the lone Wildcats touchdown run.
Seevers also had 3 catches for 46 yards and Gardner was right behind him with 2 receptions for 45 yards.  James Kellner added 1 catch for 7 yards for Warsaw.
Tim Burkhart led the busy Wildcats defense with 6 tackles while Zach Sharp, Kellner and Shane Ashlock all had 5 tackles.  Bagley, Cameron Taylor and Seevers all added 4 tackles for Warsaw.  Gage Whitaker, Logan Strunk and Garrett McGann all had 3 apiece.  Tayten Boyer had 1 forced fumble and Whitaker and Seevers both had fumble recoveries for the Green and Black defense.  
While Warsaw will turn-in their equipment and put it away for another off-season, Butler will travel to St. Pius X on Friday for MSHSAA Class 2 Quarterfinals.  That meeting will feature a clash of two teams who come into that contest with unblemished 11-0 records.