Players and coaches say this might be the year to finally see results.
Newton said the only way to stop the trend of the past two seasons is for veteran players to finally grow into their roles.
“We are expecting the guys to come out and have a better showing than the past two seasons,” Newton said. “This is my third year, so the players that were freshmen when I got here are now growing into leadership positions.”
The Bulldogs surrendered 364 points last season while finishing with a 2-8 overall record.
Newton said the team will use speed as its primary weapon on defense.
“When you are playing without the size that you would like to have on the inside, you have to balance that out with speed,” he said. “You have to be aggressive and passionate on defense. No matter what you do offensively, you have to be able to stop people on defense.”
The offense is also under reconstruction. Replacing Sandrez Evans under center will be junior quarterback Brandon Boykin. He will be relying on juniors Brandon Holden (6-3, 300 pounds) and Jordan Williams (6-3, 265 pounds) to anchor the line.
Senior free safety and wide receiver Carlos Smith (6-1, 185) said the primary focus of the players who have been in the program the longest is to take pressure off the coaches by learning to police themselves. He said leadership is where the team needs to make its biggest strides.
“We’ve been working hard on staying together and not losing focus. Falling apart on the field during games was one of our biggest downfalls last season,” Smith said. “We expect more leadership from the players this year.
“Personally, I grinded harder this summer to be a better leader. Without leadership everyone is on their own accord and we can’t have that if we want to be successful.”
Jerald Carter, a senior defensive end and tight end, said Newton expects his philosophies to start bearing fruit.
“Discipline is the number one thing for coach and it has to be number one for us as well,” Carter said. “Playing as a family is what will make us strong as a football team. My personal and team goals are the same; I want us to have fun and make it all the way to the championship.”
Thanks to realignment, Butler is now in Region 3-AAA.
“There will be a lot more excitement in the program,” Newton said. “We have new facilities and a new attitude. People pay to see good football and that’s what we want to deliver to our fans.”