Tom Butts grew up essentially on the sidelines as a ball boy at Hatboro-Horsham football games.
His father Dick was an assistant coach on Dennis Steinly’s team, so Tom spent many Friday nights close to the action.
Now Tom Butts, a 1991 Hatboro-Horsham graduate who was a sophomore for Steinly in 1988, is working as the new head coach to transform the program.
While the Hatters have gone 1-20 for the past three seasons, Butts expects things to change quickly.
His goal is to make the PIAA District One Class 5A playoffs this fall. While that may sound overly optimistic, the 16th and final 5A qualifier of 2022, Academy Park, came in with a 3-7 record.
The Hatters played an eight-game independent schedule last season in the first of two years of the Suburban One League Continental Conference, going 1-7. They will contest a full 10-game roster in 2023 and be eligible for the playoffs.
How Hatboro-Horsham can become successful in football
Off-season weightlifting participation has consistently been in the 30’s, with a total of 59 different students/athletes to date. The start of spring sports on Monday took more than 20 out of the group but the numbers were still good on Tuesday.
Butts recognizes that winning a few games and having a positive experience is all about attracting and retaining players for the team.
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Seven members of his coaching staff teach at the high school and four, including Butts, are health/physical education teachers, so they are familiar with the male students and encourage people to come out to soccer every day. Former William Tennent and Hatboro-Horsham head coach Dave Sanderson is the offensive coordinator.
Butts really wants to have enough players to set up a JV team, which hasn’t been the case in recent years. Twenty of the 42 players listed on the 2022 season-opening roster were sophomores after the Hatters had to abandon four games in 21, including the last three, due to safety concerns due to their small numbers and so much inexperience.
Tom Butts and Rob Rowan’s optimism about Butts
“I certainly don’t have the mentality of the kids who sell themselves short,” Butts, 50, said. “The kids know (the district playoffs are) the goal. You work your butt off in the weight room. The buy-in from our core group of kids was great.”
Butts coached at Hatboro-Horsham from 1998 to 2009, spending the last two as offensive coordinator. After a year as defensive coordinator at Central Bucks East (2011), he coached his children in youth leagues until joining Rob Rowan’s Central Bucks West staff in 2020. Butts was the offensive coordinator for the 2022 Bucks roster that reached the District One Class 6A Championship game.
“He really cares about his boys,” Rowan said. “He’s a sharp, detailed, balanced coach who communicates very well with his players. When you start adding these things up, you have the recipe for a successful coach. … I expect Tom Hatboro-Horsham will be competing at a high level very quickly.”
Tom Moore: [email protected]; @TomMoorePhilly