BUTTE — It was the kick heard around the state.
Butte High’s Casey Kautzman drilled the game-winning 37-yard field goal to keep the Butte High Bulldogs undefeated, but in the moments leading up to the kick last Thursday, a kick that gave Butte a 39-36 victory at previously unbeaten Missoula Sentinel, there were no nerves for the Butte sophomore. In fact, he was itching for that opportunity.
“I was excited because it’s a kicker's dream, you know, to win the game," said Kautzman. "I was talking to (Butte football coach Arie Grey) and he told me he believed in me, and I believed in myself.”
“The thing about Casey is, he works extremely hard at his craft," Grey said. "And a lot of people think it’s easy to be a kicker until they come out and try to kick. And so he’s put a lot of time in and I told him, 'Hey, think of the number of times you’ve been in your backyard kicking the game-winning field goal. Here’s your opportunity go have some fun.'”
It's safe to say after his clutch performance, Kautzman was the talk of the school and the big man on campus. He added his name to the growing list of legendary Butte kickers, which includes guys like Jake Dennehy, who won the state title for Butte on a last-second 46-yard field goal back in 2012. And even his grandfather Ron Kautzman, who was the Bulldogs' kicker on the 1964 state championship team. Fifty-five years later, Casey Kautzman reflected on what that means to him.
“I found out he was the kicker for the 1964 state championship team. Once I got to high school ... then it hit me that it's a big deal," Kuatzman said. "I was able to do Silver B’s with him and it was a great time.”
Cool, calm and collected -- the Bulldogs know that when the game is on the line they can count on Casey Kautzman to come through in the clutch.
Kautzman and Butte put their unbeaten record on the line Friday night when 4-1 Helena Capital visits Naranche Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.