MORGANTOWN – There is reason for optimism for the Butler County football team in 2019.

Despite a winless 2018 and a returning roster with only one senior with varsity experience, Butler County coach Brandon Embry believes the ingredients are there to get the Bears back on the winning track. It’s a roster that may be void of upperclassmen, but with some experience after being thrown into the fire last year. Embry hopes that experience will start to pay dividends this season.

“I think they are ready to go,” Embry said. “They are a year stronger. They are a year older, but they are still young.”

Embry’s optimism doesn’t just stem from the talent, but from the commitment his underclassmen have made since the 2018 season ended – including nearly full participation in an offseason wellness class taught by Embry.

Butler County’s lone returning senior – running back/linebacker Ethan Lawrence – said he has been impressed with the work ethic of his younger teammates.

“I think it will be a lot easier this year to get going and get on our feet more,” Lawrence said. “The younger guys are helping me a lot. They are putting in work. They are not complaining. They are doing what they are told and working hard on the practice field.”

Lawrence will be asked to carry the load for an offense that scored 61 points last season and averaged a little more than 140 yards a game.

Sophomore Jagger Henderson, the younger brother of WKU linebacker Rex Henderson, returns at quarterback after taking over signal-calling duties midway through his freshman season.

“It’s rough on any freshman getting thrown to the wolves, but you see the decision-making – he makes good decisions with the ball under pressure,” Embry said. “That experience from last year I think is going to help a lot moving forward.”

Henderson will have more than just Lawrence to help jumpstart the offense.

Junior Josh Morris is an explosive wideout who will also play a key role in the defensive secondary.

Sophomore tight end/linebacker Solomon Flener will be asked to help in the passing game, while junior running back/defensive back Bryar Beasley will do a little bit of everything on the offensive side.

Dylan Roberts and Trentin Embry will provide leadership in the trenches as Butler County looks to replace its entire offensive line.

“These younger kids are used to winning,” Embry said. “At the middle school level they won at a pretty high level and then were kind of thrown into a varsity situation. They went 7-2 last year in junior varsity against a lot of schools our size. I feel like they’ve had some success at the lower levels … and are ready to take the next step at the varsity level.”

And once they get that first taste of varsity success, Embry is hopeful it will be the spark to get the Bears back on track in 2019 and beyond.

“The last 15 or so seasons we are used to winning seasons in Butler County,” Embry said. “We just have to get back to it. I think once we start winning it is going to balloon and keep moving in that direction. Early success will be big for a young team.”

Butler County 2019 Schedule

Aug. 23 – at Logan County

Aug. 30 – at Edmonson County

Sept. 6 – at Russellville

Sept. 13 – Hart County

Sept. 20 – at McLean County

Sept. 27 – Hancock County

Oct. 11 – Todd County Central

Oct. 18 – Russell County

Oct. 25 – at Owensboro Catholic

Nov. 1 – Ohio County{&end}

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Sports Writer. Cover prep sports, Hot Rods baseball, Titans football, and is the Daily News staff film critic.

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