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Butcher, UNI rolling in FCS playoffs

—Photo by Paul DeCoursey Tim Butcher, a Manson Northwest Webster graduate, recovers a fumble against Coffeyville for Iowa Central. Butcher has signed to play football at Northern Iowa.

CEDAR FALLS — Tim Butcher has finally earned his shot and he is enjoying the postseason ride with Northern Iowa.

Butcher received NJCAA All-American honors in his two-year stint at Iowa Central. In his first year on campus in Cedar Falls (2018) he redshirted, while seeing action in four games.

The Manson Northwest Webster graduate is now a defensive tackle on the defensive line for the Panthers as they trek into the quarterfinal round of the FCS playoffs.

The Panthers (10-4 overall) will face James Madison (12-1) at 7 p.m. on Friday.

Northern Iowa finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference and opened the postseason with a 17-3 victory over San Diego. In the second round came a familiar foe in South Dakota State. In the second to last game of the regular season, the Jackrabbits rolled past the Panthers, 38-7.

When it came time to face off in the postseason, Butcher and the Panthers were ready for the rematch.

“The win (last) Saturday was nothing we knew we couldn’t do,” Butcher said. “It’s hard beating a team twice in a season and we wanted South Dakota State again after what happened in the regular season.

“Everyone was pretty upset after we saw they got a seed and we didn’t, even though we finished second in the Valley.”

The Panthers earned their revenge with a 13-10 victory to advance to the quarterfinals. This Friday Northern Iowa will play second-ranked James Madison. Action begins at 7 p.m. in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

“With the win, we learned we can play from behind and we can compete with anybody,” Butcher said. “Being in the quarterfinals now is an awesome feeling for me personally. I’ve never been this far while playing for Northern Iowa, so I’m taking every opportunity I get and this team is doing the same.

“We’re going to be ready to play on Friday and can’t wait to see who we face in the semifinals.”

Butcher has played in all 14 games and his enjoyed the ride with his team along the way. He has 30 tackles for the Panthers, who had high hopes entering the season.

“This team came into this season with high hopes ever since summer workout and fall camp,” Butcher said. “We knew as a team we had something special and knew that we would be playing deep into December, with the goals of playing for a national title in January.”

Building a championship contender in Cedar Falls has brought the Panthers close together and built a bond that Butcher is proud to be a part of.

“Our brotherhood all started in the summer and is still happening now,” Butcher said. “Both sides of the ball are pushing each other and leaning on each other, whenever a side needs it the most.”

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