Butler County Bears season concludes, eye future
The third season of the Butler County Bears franchise has come to a close, and although the season ended a little earlier that the team wanted, the season was not without success.
A 33-13 loss to the Northeast Ohio Predators in the first round of the playoffs stung the team, but making the playoffs for the second year in a row and in a new league, gives the team credibility according to head coach and owner Kirk Bergbigler.
"This league (the Homeland Football Conference) is more competitive than the league we were in last year," Bergbigler said. "I think most of the teams thought we would take a beating being the new team, but we had a 7-3 record. That earned us some respect."
Bergbigler had only four players from his first team of three seasons ago in Randall Palakovich, Bill McCaslin, Chad Krumpe and Don McCoy, but as he goes forward, he hopes to retain 80 percent of this current roster.
"The more guys you bring back, the better you will be as a team," Bergbigler said. "We want to show we are a solid program, and that helps attract new players."
Keeping the core is important for consistency, but Bergbigler said that oftentimes players who were good in high school or even college can come in to the semi-pro game with a false sense of the level of competition, and try to rely too much on what raw skill they may have had.
"The speed does take some time to get used to," he said.
Although the games are over for the season, the schedule is no less relentless for the coach and his staff. Currently, they are scouting and recruiting for the future. The staff will attend local high school and college games to try to find some talent to bolster an already good roster.
Next season, Bergbigler plans to keep the roster to 55 players. To do this he will hold some tryouts, and build his team from there.
"We look for players, but some contact us," he said.
The idea in keeping only 55 players is to offer up more playing time to those who earn it through good practice attendance and play.
For more information on the Bears, visit www.butlercountybears.com.