KINDRED, N.D.-Kindred junior linebacker Taydon Butcher knew no one when he came to the first football practice this season. He had just moved from the Dassel-Cokato area in Minnesota. The feeling of pressure to prove himself to new teammates was impossible to avoid.
"At first, it was kind of weird. I didn't know anybody," Butcher said. "After awhile, I kind of got used to everybody. It was kind of a fun time, getting to restart. At first, I just always gave it my all. At first, I felt like I had to impress the coaches and show them what I could actually do."
Butcher got his shot five games into the season. He found himself splitting time against Lisbon. Then, the fourth quarter belonged to him.
"He ended up with six tackles in the fourth quarter and we're like, 'Holy cow, this kid can play,'" Kindred coach Matt Crane said. "From then on, he started at linebacker for us, and he's done a great job."
In only six full games on the season, Butcher has 65 tackles, six of which have gone for loss, and an interception. Heading into the Friday, Nov. 11, matchup with Bismarck St. Mary's for the Class 2A state title at the Fargodome, Butcher is the second leading tackler on the team.
"He's a soft-spoken kid, but he really lets his work do the talking," Crane said. "He's the first guy through the lines in sprints and conditioning. When you're the new guy, obviously that helps when people can respect that you're a hard worker. That's really helped him get right in and be one of the guys."
Butcher has been playing football since he was able to hold one. It's the team aspect that keeps him coming back to the field.
"I've always been a football player," Butcher said. "I started whenever I could, playing flag football at first and then tackle in fifth grade. I like being on the team and having the feeling of winnings as a team and how everyone has to do their job, otherwise you lose. If everyone does their job, you come out with a win."
It took everyone in the state semifinals against Fargo Shanley to get Kindred to the state championship game, as the Vikings scored a touchdown on the final play of the game, erasing a 29-7 Shanley lead midway through the third for a 35-29 win.
"We're still not over that one," Crane said. "We're moving onto St. Mary's, but at the same time we're enjoying the fact that we get to play one more week. There's only a few teams in the whole state that are practicing right now, and we're lucky enough to be one of them."
Butcher was looking for a new team and a shot to show what he could do when his family moved to Kindred to be closer to family. He got both this season.
"It's nice to know the team has my back, even when I do make a mistake because everyone makes mistakes," Butcher said. "It's just nice to know that everyone has my back."
Dakota Bowl at the Fargodome
Televised live on WDAY
9:10 a.m., Class 1A state championship
Des Lacs-Burlington vs. Ellendale-Edgeley-Kulm
Noon, 9-Man state championship
Thompson vs. New Salem-Glen Ullin
3 p.m., Class 2A state championship
Kindred vs. Bismarck St. Mary's
6:40 p.m., Class 3A state championship
Bismarck vs. Bismarck Century