Butler Bears fall in conference finals to close out season
The 55-8 defeat in the conference championship game to the Ohio Golden Knights spelled the end of the season for the Butler County Bears semiprofessional football team, but the loss was not indicative of the season.
The Bears ended with an overall record of 8-4 including 1-1 in the playoffs.
The Bears were in every game prior to the conference finals and put together winning streaks of three and four games at different points of the season.
“Ohio just had team speed like we had never seen,” Butler County coach Kirk Bergbigler said. “They were all fast, got a man on a man and their running backs got loose.
“We were able to move the ball, but penalties stopped some of our drives and we had a punt blocked.”
The loss was a bitter end to an otherwise successful season, but Bergbigler spun it in a positive manner for his players, a group he said got closer all season long.
“We grew as a team, and the guys stuck together,” Bergbigler said. “I could not be more proud of them. They were upset in the final minute when Ohio was sitting on the ball and killing the clock … my guys wanted to play it out.”
Bergbigler said the hope is that the success of the eight wins will carry over and help him with recruiting new players. Of the 53 men on his roster, the coach hopes he gets about 35 back.
“I have already had players calling me about coming out for the team,” Bergbigler said. “I hope this season opened up some eyes. We have a good core of veterans who know the direction of the team and are willing to help new guys.”
The attendance at the games grew as the season went along, especially when the Bears played at Butler Memorial Park. Bergbigler said an estimated 300-400 fans came out for those games, and he wants to grow it to near 1,000 fans for next season.
“We had a five-year plan when I got this going, and next year is year five,” Bergbigler said. “We are close to how we planned things would go.”
Jerry Clark is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 724-779-6979 or.