BRAINARD – East Butler Coach Shawn Biltoft has been blessed with some pretty good quarterbacks during his 19-year tenure at the school
Last year all-district and all-conference performer Jaden Rhynalds led the Tigers into the playoffs where they were defeated by Elmwood-Murdock.
Before Rhynlads, it was all-staters Skyler Ratkovec and Dalton Bohac heading the Tiger offense.
Last season the Tigers averaged 32.6 points a game on the offensive side of the football.
This season the keys to the car will be handed over to 150-pound senior Josh Malina.
Malina saw extended playing time as the backup quarterback in 2019 and also played in all nine games on the defensive side of the ball.
“Josh is a smart kid and we feel like he going to be able to make plays for us this season,” said Biltoft.
Biltoft is going to “get creative” this season on the offensive side of the ball.
With only 17-20 guys on the roster, Biltoft admitted that he is going to move his best athletes around on that side of the ball.
One of the guys who Biltoft is going to rely heavily on is 170-pound junior Trevin Brecka.
Brecka started for the Tigers as a freshman and enters his junior campaign as team’s best football player.
Brecka earned all-area and all-district honors after an outstanding sophomore season.
He caught 50 balls for 727 yards and 11 touchdowns and led the team with 115 tackles on defense.
“Trevin is a pretty versatile guy. He can play multiple positions and with his experience, we are going to ask him to take on more of a leadership role,” said Biltoft.
The Tigers return four starters offensively, including offensive linemen Dillon DeWitt and Collin Bouc.
Both seniors have played a lot of football for the Tigers over the past three years and will spearhead the Tigers offensive line this season.
Juniors Steven Thomas (215) and Noah Paseka (220) started on the defensive side of the football last year and will be asked to play both ways in 2020.
“We don’t have a lot of depth up front, but Collin and Dillon both have a lot of experience and are good football players,” Biltoft added.
Brecka spearheads a defense which returns five starters.
Last season, the Tigers allowed 31.6 points a game and Biltoft feels like this season’s group has a chance to be better.
Bouc flanks Brecka at linebacker and returns this season after piling up 77 tackles and three fumble recoveries last season as a junior.
Dewitt, Thomas and Paseka return along the defensive line after starting a season ago.
Juniors Josh Spatz, Brayden Brecka and Kyle Heise although diminutive, are all expected to start on the defensive side of the ball.
“Those guys aren’t very big, but they are aggressive and all have wrestling backgrounds. We are going to ask a lot of them this season,” Biltoft stated.
Biltoft has piled up 104 wins in his 18 years on the East Butler sideline and has led 11 teams to the postseason, including in 2017 when they Tigers claimed the Class D-1 state championship.
The 2020 schedule will make a return to the playoffs a difficult one for the Tigers.
The teams on the Tiger schedule combined to finish with a record of 49-25 a season ago.
The Tigers will open the season on the road against Howells-Dodge on Aug. 28.
Games with perennial powers Clarkson-Leigh, Elmwood-Murdock and Humphrey Lindsay-Holy Family also await East Butler this season.
“The schedule is going to present a challenge. No question. We will get a pretty good gauge of where we are at in week one,” Biltoft added.