High School Football

Modesto Christian parts way with football coach Brett Butler

New Modesto Christian coach, Brett Butler.
New Modesto Christian coach, Brett Butler.

When Modesto Christian High School football coach Brett Butler met with board members and Athletic Director Robb Spencer in early October to discuss a list of things he needed to make the struggling program work, he said everything seemed OK.

That apparently wasn’t case as Butler was let go by MC after a 1-9 season that included a forfeited game to Hilmar.

“A board member told me they couldn’t get the money or donations and I was the reason they couldn’t get them,” said Butler, who was told of his dismissal on Saturday. “I asked them why not and they said the image and culture they want to have, I was not that guy.”

Principal Dr. Jonathan Burton declined to comment on Butler’s remarks, citing he was not at the meeting when Spencer and board members met with the first-year coach.

“He brought a lot of great things to the table and we appreciate everything he did in a tough situation and sticking with it through the season,” Burton said. “There were challenges throughout and we think positive of Brett.”

In the end, Burton said he didn’t feel Butler could take the program to the next level.

A former Downey High standout, Butler was named head coach in May, shortly after Ryan Green stepped down after less than four months on the job. He had taken over for Mike Parsons, who resigned in January after leading the Crusaders to Trans-Valley League titles in 2017 and 2018.

Green’s departure sent the program into disarray, and several players transferred out of the private school in Salida.

Butler took over a team with fewer than 20 varsity players, mostly underclassmen, and had just three months to prepare for the season. The Crusaders had seven freshmen on varsity who had never played tackle football and although they had three seniors, two had never played football.

He also said several assistant coaches fled the program before the season, which began with 63- and 62-point defeats.

After beating eventual 0-10 Riverbank 34-22 on Sept. 20, the Crusaders didn’t score a point the rest of the season. Their forfeit against Hilmar was due to not having enough healthy players.

Butler contended he was the target of outside influences battling against the school’s administration for hiring him.

As the losses mounted, and after the school’s locker room was vandalized, Butler met with the team and parents to talk about the struggles.

“I asked them if they wanted me to quit ... and every single kid and family said no. They said if I quit, they would, too,” Butler said.

Burton said he knew it was going to be a tough season with the low roster count, and he was proud of the effort, both on and off the field.

He said the school is not setting a deadline for finding a coach. However, after last year, he said they will have a written protocol and be more careful with the next hiring. He admitted there was a feeling the school had to act fast after Parsons left.

Butler, meanwhile, lauded his team’s effort.

Three players — Senior quarterback Jovan Watkins, junior wide receiver Brendan Garcia, and sophomore wide receiver Trey Moreland — played every snap of the season, he said.

“Watkins is the most talented kid in the city,” Butler said. “He is also a Division I baseball prospect.”

Julian A. Lopez has been covering local sports for The Modesto Bee since August 2018. He graduated from Arizona State in 2016 with a BA in Journalism.