, Port Arthur, Texas


August 29, 2011

Butler extends family legacy at Nederland

NEDERLAND — Senior Brett Butler has a little bit of history with the Nederland football program. His grandfather was a coach there in addition to being the head baseball coach. His uncle, Billy Butler, was a quarterback for the team and both his cousins, Ryan and Garrett, were also standout players for the Bulldogs.

  If that wasn’t enough of a connection to the team, the 5-9, 150-pound safety also lives just down the street from head coach Larry Neumann.

  “Brett is a really smart, heady player,” Neumann said. “He comes from a football family and you can tell he takes a lot of pride in that.”

  Butler is fitting in nicely to the family legacy, as he’s become a rock of the Bulldog secondary. Nederland switched to a 4-2-5 defensive look this season, which means it has four linemen, two linebackers and five defensive backs on the field for most plays. Butler starts at free safety, which is basically the middle safety on the field. It’s his job to make sure the coverage is correct and his fellow defenders are reacting correctly to the offense’s formation.

  “If there were a quarterback of the defense, he’d be it,” Neumann said. “He gets us lined up on every play, which is big. He also has to react to the run or pass, coming down into the box on those runs. He has to turn into another one of our linebackers on running plays in this defense, and he does that well, as he’s a good tackler.”

  Switching from the 4-3 look Nederland used last season has been mainly about the little things for Butler.

  “The main differences are in my stance and technique,” Butler said. “Last year, we ran mostly zone and this year it’s a lot more about man coverage, making sure you have the right matchup and attacking the right alley on running plays. You have to read the line more, be constantly moving people around checking the formation.”

  In Nederland’s wild comeback victory against West Orange-Stark last Friday, Butler had one of the best games of his career, grading out as one of the top players on the team. However, Butler was quick to focus on what the victory meant for the team as a whole.

  “I think I played pretty well,” Butler said. “I got to make some good tackles and helped the defense. The biggest thing about that game was that we were able to win the fourth quarter 14-0. Coach (Neumann) is always talking to us about winning late in the game. We went in at halftime and made the adjustments we needed to be successful in the second half.”

  That attitude also carries over to his goals for the season, including making the all-district team but also making sure his team wins the District 20-4A title and makes the playoffs. To that end, Butler worked hard at gaining muscle and getting faster this summer.

  “I started last season at 145 (pounds) but by working out during the season, I got up to 150,” said Butler, who’s listed at 150 on this year’s roster. “I also dropped my 40-yard dash time from 4.7 to 4.6, which was nice. The best thing about playing defense is you get to hit people instead of being hit. I think this summer’s work will help me do that better this season.”

  Butler also showcases his versatility by being the team’s punter and would probably do more if Neumann asked him.

  “He punts for us now and would probably kick too, if we needed him,” Neumann said. “That’s just another reason why he’s such a good player for our team. He’s a good student, reacts well on the field and is just a pleasure to coach.”

  BULLDOG BITES: In Saturday’s edition, the Port Arthur News incorrectly identified Korey Hopkins as the player who caught the game-winning two-point conversion against West Orange-Stark. It was actually sophomore Kendric Hopkins who made the play. The younger Hopkins was called up for the game to give the Bulldogs some depth at fullback, but was not listed in the program. Having him available proved to be a savvy coaching move. Nederland lost starting fullback Brett Brown to a concussion midway through the game and had to rely on Hopkins. “We were exploring all our options last week,” Neumann said. “We knew we could use some of the other guys we have at fullback if we needed to, but Kendric fits the position better. As it turns out, we’re glad we had him.”… Brown did not black out as a result of a hit against WO-S, but did suffer the concussion during punt coverage. Neumann said the trainers tended to him and saw no symptoms right away, but that after Brown went back into the game he started exhibiting signs that got him pulled. “He was missing some assignments that he wouldn’t normally miss,” Neumann said. “We could tell he wasn’t himself, so we got him out of there as soon as we could.” Brown will have to go through the newly adopted UIL concussion guidelines, which include getting a baseline test of his brain waves to compare to a homogenous group of his peers to see if he’s still exhibiting symptoms. Brown was in Houston for those tests on Monday. The timetable for his return is unclear, as Brown will have to be symptom-free for a week before he can resume any activity with the team. …The Bulldogs also suffered a couple injuries in the secondary. Both Korey Hopkins and Trent Fontenot were in for MRIs this week after suffering knee injuries last Friday. Neumann did not yet have an update on their condition, but expected to know more in the next few days. Defensive tackle Brock Pryor is also still out with a forearm injury.


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