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Saturday's Gridiron Classic Peppered with Region Flavor
For the first time in 18 years, Butler will get a taste of postseason football action.
When the Bulldogs play Central Connecticut State on Saturday in Indianapolis, Northwest Indiana will be well-represented on the field, as seven local players – led by Lowell grads Scott Gray, David Lang and Mike Staniewicz – are on the Butler roster.
The fourth annual Gridiron Classic pits the winners of two Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) leagues – the Pioneer Football League and Northeast Conference – in a bowl competition agreement. PFL Butler (10-1) hosts CCSU (9-2) at 11 a.m. Region time inside the storied Butler Bowl.
A 2006 Lowell grad, Gray leads the Bulldogs in rushing with 780 yards and four touchdowns, the most yards by a Butler runner in seven seasons. The 5-foot-8, 190-pound junior running back is looking forward to the matchup.
“It means a lot, getting the program going in the right direction,” Gray said. “Hopefully, more Butler teams can follow our footsteps and keep the tradition going.”
Gray was named first team All-PFL, while Staniewicz, a 6-5, 290-pound junior right tackle, was named to the second team. Gray said he couldn’t have done it without all the help from his teammates.
“The coaching staff has been putting us in good situations all year, and the offensive line has been opening up some holes for me,” said Gray, who also has 11 receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown.
Lang, the Bulldogs’ place kicker, helped make the Gridiron Classic appearance possible with a game-winning 27-yard field goal in a 20-17 win over Drake on Nov. 21 that gave Butler the league crown for the first time since 1994 and a school-record 10th win. He also booted the game-winner in a 25-24 win over Dayton on Homecoming. Both kicks came in the final seconds.
“I’ve got to give credit to the team,” Lang said. “They put me in position to make the kick. If it happens to be in a situation to win the game, you just have to stay focused and hit that kick. They’ve done a good job of moving the ball. If they put me in a great spot, hopefully, we can put those points on the board.”
Other players from the Region are Lake Central grads Tyler Foster, a freshman from Schererville, and William Bork, a sophomore from Dyer. Redshirt freshmen Artis Haley III, out of Hammond High, and T.J. Lukasik, of Lowell, also are on the roster.
“It is nice to have some familiar faces around that you played high school ball with,” Lang said.
After leading the Bulldogs to their first postseason game since the program moved to Division I in 1993 and first overall since the 1991 Division II playoffs, Butler’s Jeff Voris was named the PFL Coach of the Year. Voris said his Northwest Indiana players exemplify the “Butler Way” and are great teammates.
“They get more excited about their team’s success than any individual accomplishments,” he said. “They truly see themselves as a piece of the puzzle. They work every day to improve. They stay in the moment and give everything to the task at hand, and they love to compete.”
Lowell grads lead Butler football team into postseason
By CHRISTOPHER BREACH, The Northwest Indiana Herald