Bruins better prepared after transitional year


With a year under his belt as a coach in the City League-South Division, Butler By'not'e now understands the challenges awaiting his Briggs High School football team.

Despite being led by a former Ohio State running back (1990-93) and NFL player (1994-95 with Denver and Carolina) in By'not'e, the Bruins struggled a year ago, especially in the City-South, with mostly sophomores and freshmen on the field.

"Coming into it last season, I didn't know what to expect," By'not'e said. "It was a totally different beast than what I was used to.

"In high school, we had one or two good teams in the league. This one has four or five strong teams. Now I know what I'm up against."

Despite the competition, By'not'e expects progress from last season's finish of 1-9 overall and 1-6 in the City-South, seventh behind champion Marion-Franklin (7-0).

Briggs, which opens Friday, Aug. 30, at Watkins Memorial, remains relatively young.

But much of the group has varsity experience after suffering through a 2012 season that included losses by an average margin of more than 50 points.

Much of that skill appears on offense where six starters return in senior receivers Christian Marshall and Dion Leflore, junior running back and tight end Maleik Gore, who played quarterback much of last season, junior center Bobby Walker and sophomore linemen Mason Cullen and Mike Robinson.

Sophomore Tyson Miles will start at quarterback.

"He's going to be a great player," By'not'e said. "His footwork and technique have really improved and I really applaud him on his mechanics. He can throw a deep ball. I think he's a rising star in this league."

Gore is moving into Todd Jackson's role in Briggs' multiple-set offense. Jackson and linemen Christian Action and Deshawn Hamilton are the key losses from last year's team.

Freshman running back A.J. Houchins also has the coaches' attention following summer workouts.

In building a running game, By'not'e hopes to create more depth up front.

"We have a lot of young guys," he said. "We need to build a situation at Briggs where we have a little league program and keep those guys here. I know (for) some of these guys, it's like starting over because they haven't played football in a while."

The experience on defense is at the linebacker position where senior starters Tyrell Harris and Jacob Hall return. Sophomore Zach Distelhorst returns at cornerback, and Robinson also started at defensive tackle last year.

"Our defensive line is going to look completely different," By'not'e said. "But they looked pretty good in our first scrimmage. We've got a lot of guys who are new on that side of the ball and they're hungry."

By'not'e was hired to replace Derek Katris, who coached the Bruins to a 13-17 record in three seasons.