College football: Saints look to start season – finally
Now this wait is almost unbearable.
The day before the Saints’ season opens on September 4 against Sewanee (Tenn.), A CSS player tested positive for COVID. The school looked at the situation, looking at contact tracing and the like, and decided the right thing to do was to call off the football game.
“It was obviously a punch,” said senior running back and Moose Lake graduate Bryceton Butkiewicz.
But after a year and a half of one punch after another, a lot of athletes have guts of steel at this point, including the Saints.
“With COVID still lingering around, it’s not that you’re ready for it, but nothing can really surprise us anymore,” Butkiewicz said. “It’s just another thing to overcome. You have to roll with the punches and move on to the next game. “
This next match will take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday, September 25, 2021, against Augsburg at the Public Schools Stadium.
“I feel like it’s been ages since we played, but now it’s like Christmas Day,” said Butkiewicz.
Not only is this the Saints’ season opener, it’s the program’s first competition as a member of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Cross your fingers and hit COVID, but hopefully this game gets in.
“We’re thrilled to say the least,” Saints coach Mike Heffernan said. “(Our first game of the season) was about to happen, then all of a sudden wait, it’s gonna take a few more weeks.
“The most important thing was to get them out of camp mode. We were no longer at the camp. School had started. Just like last year and a half, they had to face one adversity after another. But like I told the guys, it all depends on how we respond to it, how we deal with ourselves. “
While everyone will remember some ugly CSS losses to MIAC opponents, including the infamous 98 Donuts game against St. John’s, NCAA Division III, in the 2017 season opener, c was a perfect storm that snowballed, avalanche, whatever cliché you want to call it.
Augsburg is 0-2, including a 46-38 loss to Ripon College in the season opener. Ripon is a team that St. Scholastica has played several times in recent years, winning one and losing one.
Additionally, St. Scholastica’s former league, the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference, faced MIAC teams last week, losing all three, but came close to causing surprise as Hamline had to hold out for a 30- win. 28 vs. Minnesota-Morris.
“It will be a big step for our football program and our institution as a whole,” said Butkiewicz. “This is the conference we want to be at, but at the end of the day, no matter who you play, we’re going to go there and do our thing and care about ourselves.”
Being competitive in this new league is not as far as some might think.
“And any Saturday it can be anyone’s day,” Heffernan said. “What never fails is that a hungry football team, a well-trained and organized football team, will always have an opportunity to win because they are going to come in and compete.”
One of those that Heffernan need not worry about in this regard is Butkiewicz.
The 6-foot, 222-pounder excelled for Moose Lake-Willow River and is always ready to play. He grew up on a 650 acre farm near Kettle River that included cattle, hay, vegetables, raspberry jam and jelly. He knows a lot about hard work, returning home every summer to work on the farm.
Butkiewicz has been a versatile and reliable running back over his two years at CSS, including 56 carries for 164 yards and two touchdowns in 2019, as well as 26 receptions for 215 yards for the Saints (7-3).
“Bryceton is a captain for us and there’s a reason he’s captain,” Heffernan said. “It’s because he works extremely hard on the pitch and in the classroom. He has the confidence of his coaches and teammates. He’s someone I can always count on, and he’s just a great boy. “
Butkiewicz will graduate in May with a double major in Marketing and Business Management and earns a cumulative grade point average of 3.9.
While Butkiewicz wouldn’t rule out another year, even if he doesn’t, he said he’s had a wonderful experience at CSS, despite all the setbacks COVID has caused.
“First of all, the school here is amazing,” said Butkiewicz. “And to be a part of this football program, to be a part of something bigger than yourself, it’s an amazing thing to be a part of. I didn’t think too far because at the moment I’m just focused on this season.
AUGSBURG TO ST. SCHOLASTIC
What: The Saints’ first MIAC football game; Opening of the CSS season
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Or: Public school stadium
Recordings: Augsburg 0-2, CSS 0-0
Forecast: afternoon sun with 63 and 15 mph wind
The Internet: csssaints.com/showcase?Live=570