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Friday night lights entice new Butler football coach

| Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, 8:52 p.m.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Rob Densmore takes over a Butler football program that has gone 10-54 since 2007

Rob Densmore says he would rather follow high school football than any other sport, including professional or college football.

“I would watch high school football before college or pro any day. It's an event. It is what people do on Friday night. There is a pureness to it. They are out there to play, not to get endorsements,” said Densmore, a longtime coach just hired as head football coach for the Butler Area School District.

Densmore, 39, was hired at the district's school board meeting last week.

Densmore worked as a defensive coordinator in the Pine-Richland School District for 13 years. Last football season, he worked as an assistant coach in the Freedom Area School District.

He will be Butler's fourth head football coach in eight years and takes over after a prolonged slump for football in the district, said Michael Strutt, the district's superintendent.

“We have not been very successful over the past 15 years. We fell on some hard times. We are in the toughest conference in the WPIAL. It is a hard conference to play in,” Strutt said.

As a Class AAAA school, Butler faces football powerhouses such as Central Catholic, North Hills and North Allegheny.

Densmore is a 1993 graduate of Seneca Valley, where he played football. He will continue to teach social studies at Pine-Richland.

“I enjoy teaching and coaching. It's different every day. The big thing is the relationships you can make with kids,” he said.

At Butler, Densmore will be in charge of not just the varsity football program but the junior varsity team and separate teams for the seventh, eighth and ninth grades. Starting in August, he expects to be coaching 50 hours a week.

Densmore has coached on teams that have posted 81 wins and 40 losses over his career as an assistant. Pine-Richland was a section champion for seven years in row, won a WPIAL title in 2003 and went to Hershey for the state championship that same year.

Butler last season had one win and eight losses.

Densmore looks forward to reviving Butler's football program. “I really hope to turn it around. They could do much better than they have been,” he said.

His football associates think he has a good chance of turning the team around.

“He is a good guy. He will do a good job. He's very motivated and excited,” said Tim Dubovi, head football coach at Freedom who also was Densmore's coach at Seneca Valley.

Dubovi admired Densmore's determination as a player. “He was undersized but played with a big heart,” Dubovi said of Densmore, who was about 5 feet 9 inches and weighed 150 pounds in high school.

Densmore led the Seneca Valley team in tackles in his senior year.

A New Hampshire native, Densmore moved to Western Pennsylvania at the age of 13 but never lost his loyalty for the New England Patriots.

“I know. My wife wants to kill me every time the Patriots are on TV,” he said.

The longtime football coach is also concerned about his players' risk of concussions, a subject that has come under increasing scrutiny.

“We are much more aware of the concussion issue. There is a lot more care about it. You want to prevent any type of injury, especially a brain injury,” he said.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944or rwills@tribweb.com.

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