Justin Buttermore spent five seasons as an assistant coach in the OCC before going on to successful head-coaching stints in which his teams made program history at Dresden Tri-Valley and Granville.

Still, after being named Upper Arlington football coach on March 25, Buttermore said he wasn’t necessarily looking to break back into the area or the conference.

“Upper Arlington is a great community with a remarkable tradition, both academically and in football. It’s one of the premier jobs in the state,” Buttermore said. “When I went to Granville, that job came out of nowhere. This was the same thing. I didn’t expect it to be open, but once I sat down and thought about it, it was one I wanted to go for. There are tons of great coaches and talent in the OCC, and central Ohio football has gone from good to great. It’s an exciting challenge.”

The hire is pending school board approval.

Buttermore succeeds Jeremey Scally, who guided UA to records of 6-4 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Central last fall in his only season as coach. The Golden Bears shared the league title with Dublin Coffman and Hilliard Davidson.

Scally left UA in January to become head coach at Davidson, where he’d spent 12 seasons as an assistant before coming to UA.

Buttermore has a 151-55 career record, with 131 of those wins coming in a wildly successful run at Tri-Valley from 2004-17. He guided the Scotties to 10 playoff appearances, including a Division III state runner-up finish in 2017 that included a regional final upset of Hartley, which had won the previous two Division IV championships.

Buttermore then left for Granville and guided the Blue Aces to 10-2 records, the program’s first two postseason wins and Division III regional semifinal appearances each of the past two seasons.

“(Buttermore) has the pedigree,” athletics director Tony Pusateri said. “He wants to be here and that was the No. 1 thing with us. His record and reputation, from what his teams have done to what others have had to say about him, were huge. He’s excited to get this team as far as we can go.

“We have a tough league here, but it’s all relative. His teams have played the Licking Valleys, the Hartleys, teams like that and definitely have done well. (Tri-Valley) faced Trotwood-Madison (in the state final). His teams have accomplished a lot, and we have some personnel coming back here that looks pretty promising.”

Buttermore, a graduate of Beloit West Branch in northeast Ohio who went on to play at Capital, spent five seasons as an assistant at Davidson under longtime coach Brian White before heading to Tri-Valley. He was the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator in 2002 and 2003.

“His track record speaks for itself,” UA assistant athletics director Spencer Smith said. “We didn’t talk much about offensive or defensive (schemes) but more about building a culture. When that’s done successfully, Xs and Os become secondary and tend to take care of themselves.”

Buttermore’s eldest son, Bo, was first-team all-state each of the past two years for the Blue Aces as a defensive back and also played quarterback last fall as a senior.

Younger son Doak, a sophomore, is a running back and linebacker and also plays baseball.

Top players eligible to return include three of UA’s top defensive players in junior linebackers Matthew Weaver (team-high 70 tackles last season) and Marco Landolfi (62 tackles) and junior defensive back Shea Keethler (58 tackles, team-leading four interceptions) as well as sophomore running backs Carson Gresock and Chris Reynolds, who combined for 844 yards and five touchdowns on 132 carries.

Other expected returnees include juniors Michael Ballenger (DL), Dominic Chiavaroli (DE/TE), Jack Flowers (OL/DL) and Garrett Junk (P) and sophomores Sam Cannon, a receiver who had 14 catches for 257 yards and two touchdowns last season, and Simon Monnin, last year’s backup quarterback.

“Our teams have been pretty balanced offensively. I run the spread, but 60 to 70 percent of the time we’re running the ball,” coach Buttermore said. “When my teams have been at their best, we’ve been balanced, but we’ve also hung our hat on defense wherever we’ve been.”

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@ThisWeekDave