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Butler building momentum under 2nd-year coach

| Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, 9:04 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Butler's Jake Alston
Christopher Horner
Butler's Jake Olenick. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

Two wins may not sound like much, but at Butler, which hasn't had a winning season since 1997, hasn't beaten an Allegheny County team since 2004 and has gone winless three of the past five years, two victories matter.

So, too, does having the same coaching staff in consecutive years.

“I think the kids are a little more comfortable with the fact that they have some continuity with the coaching staff this year,” said second-year coach Clyde Conti, who became the program's fifth coach since 2000 when he was hired prior to last season. “I'm excited for it.”

Butler knocked off New Castle and Canon-McMillan last year within the first three weeks before finishing on a six-game losing streak, allowing 34 points or more each time and scoring more than a single touchdown only once.

The schedule isn't easy: Besides games against the Quad North, which produced two of four 2011 WPIAL semifinalists, Butler will host Class AAAA runner-up Upper St. Clair on Oct. 5.

“We have a very challenging schedule this year,” said Conti, who also will match wits with his nephew, Fox Chapel coach Eric Ravotti, on Oct. 19.

Playing pivotal roles will be two senior captains: Bob Vernick and Jake Olenick. Vernick is a three-year starter at linebacker and led the team in rushing last fall. Olenick could see time as a wingback and also anchors the secondary from his strong safety spot.

Senior Jordan Cratty and junior Thomas Jendesky will compete at quarterback, forcing Conti into a decision after scrimmages against Woodland Hills and Blackhawk.

Canan Roskovski and Jake Alston are two talented receivers — basketball player Luke Hartung joined the team and could fit into the receiving mix — but the focus will be finding lineman, Conti said.

Others in the Conti's backfield-by-committee approach include seniors Claude Clark and Kolby Kreiss, as well as Robert Burdine, who anchored Butler's 400-meter relay team this past spring as a freshman.

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