Butler football team adjusting to new coach
Butler's football team has struggled over the past two decades.
The Golden Tornado's last winning season was in 1997. The squad is 10-54 overall since 2007 and 4-39 in conference play during that span.
Rob Densmore hopes to reverse Butler's course. He was named the team's head coach in February, which made him the program's fourth head coach in the past eight years.
It's the first head coaching job for Densmore, who spent more than a decade coaching at Pine-Richland. He was assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Freedom last season.
“I was at Pine-Richland for 15 years and was the defensive coordinator there,” he said. “It's fun being a head coach. I get to do a lot of the things I have been doing for years, plus other things like dealing more with boosters. It's all going really well right now.”
Turnout for the program's offseason workouts was high. Participation should go up now that summer break is here.
“We're pretty much in the 60s, in terms of players coming to workouts,” he said. “Now that spring sports are over, we should have that regularly.”
Butler wrapped up its first four-day minicamp under Densmore last week.
“It's noncontact. We run it like a practice with individual areas and team sessions and mixed fields,” he said. “We utilized the sleds. I just bought a tackling sled. Our tackling needs some work, and they will work on that all summer long.
“Overall, I think it's going pretty good. They are adjusting to the way I run practice. I thought it went well. The kids are excited.”
A 1993 Seneca Valley graduate, Densmore is familiar with the Golden Tornado's program and its recent struggles, despite having one of the WPIAL's top enrollments.
“I think all of us in the past have wondered that — why aren't they doing better? They are not as big as they used to be,” he said. “People think they're graduating 1,300 kids each year, but they're graduating 640 now. It's still a large school. We have been trying to get the kids out who haven't been who we think should be playing football.
“With the way we're running things, it's exciting. We are getting some more kids out. I think that'll help us in the long run,” he continued. “The staff I hired is very good. A lot of them are in the district at Butler. Some I played against in high school.
“They are good coaches, and they put the kids first. They know Xs and Os, but they are about the kids first, and that's very important to me.”
Butler's summer workouts begin Monday. According to Densmore, the Golden Tornado will participate in 7-on-7 passing scrimmages against Knoch and Kiski and head to a team camp at Edinboro University in the middle of July.
“I don't put a huge emphasis on 7-on-7s in terms of winning and losing. It's more about teaching fundamentals. Plus, everything starts and finishes up front,” Densmore said. “I am just excited. We have really, really hardworking kids, and they are committed to what we're doing. They want success. They are very coachable kids.
“They wanted someone to lead them, and I think we're heading in that direction now.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.