Head Coach: Steve Warner
2016 Record: 11-2
Returning Starters Offense: Dalton Smyres –WR – SR, Dalton Brown – TB – SR, Lawson Schultz – G/DT - SR, Dylan Brown – WR/DB – SR, Cade Mclean – G – SR,
Defense: Brendan Webb – DE – SR, Braden Rose – DE/TE - SR, Jhet Burkhart – LB/FB – SR, Braden Lock – LB – SR, Ben Epp – DB – SR, Logan Sweet – C - SR
2016 Season Highlight: Defeated Abilene, Mulvane, and Maize South on their way to the 4A Division 1 state championship game.
Buhler is back with a vengeance. The Crusaders replenish the roster with eight starters on each side of the ball.
Talented and experienced, Buhler went 11-2 in 2016 before falling to Bishop Miege in the Class 4A Division I state championship game. That loss still stings and the Crusaders embrace the pain.
“We’ve talked about that almost every day,” senior guard/defensive tackle Lawson Schultz said. “I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that we haven’t talked about Bishop Miege and how sour that taste was.”
Head Coach Steve Warner called that 53-21 loss to the Stags “embarrassing”.
The Crusaders will get an early season gauge on how good their team is when they open shop against rival McPherson – a game Buhler has won the last two years.
“I really like playing somebody tough,” says Warner. “It makes us better because our kids are more focused during the summer.”
The players also prefer a stout, early-season trial.
“Every year they’re going to be competitive," says senior defensive end/tight end Braden Rose. “They’re a good team to start with.”
“I think they make us better, especially in the off-season, says senior linebacker/fullback, Jhet Burkhart. “We know they’re going to be good so we have to work hard and come out and be ready to play the first game or we’ll be 0-1.”
November tears begin in trenches and that's where Buhler is a nightmare. The defense refers to themselves as “The Trench Squad”.
Senior defensive end Brendan Webb put it bluntly: “We know how to kick some butt.”
The offensive line has the pleasure of blocking for Dalton Brown. Brown rushed for 1,943 yards on 275 carries and 22 touchdowns as a junior. Burkhart is his fullback and he loves to barrel downhill.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Burkhart said. “Especially when you’re running the ball and you get about ten yards almost every carry. You see some of the teams and they’re getting sacked every time. It’s rare for us to get tackled in the back field.”
There's a new quarterback in Buhler after Ethan White graduated. Seniors Ben Epp and junior Colton Goans are dueling for the starting job. Epp was the front-runner going into camp. He’s more athletic, but Goans has a high football IQ.
“There’s good and bad from both of them,” Schultz said. “They have different perspectives, different attitudes, and different personalities. I think you could literally flip a coin. I would be comfortable with either of them playing.”
Whoever takes the snaps will be targeting Dylan Bron frequently. The wide receiver hauled in 35 catches for 850 yards and 11 touchdowns during his junior year.