For many standout football players, late October is the most delightful time of the year. The postseason is nearing, and the last few regular-season games represent an opportunity to jockey for position.
For Matthew Buchler, the dwindling days of the month have been bittersweet.
Buchler is the star attraction of the Centaurus offense, a 5-foot-5 sparkplug who has been compiling heavy yardage totals in the running, receiving and return game for the past three seasons.
His Warriors, though, never have been in the playoff hunt, which makes him one of the area’s most underrated upper-echelon players. With his time with the program nearing an end — he’ll play his final game Friday at Thomas Jefferson — Buchler reflected on his successful run, one that began when he worked his way onto the field as a sophomore and couldn’t be taken off.
“It’s definitely been a positive experience for me,” said Buchler, who has scored 36 of the Warriors’ 59 touchdowns over the past three seasons. “I love the guys on our team and I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. I mean yeah, I wish senior season would have gone different, but I think everybody wishes that.”
The Warriors came out of the gates 2-0, but have won only once since and won’t qualify for the Class 3A postseason. But that hasn’t taken the shine of Buchler’s accomplishments.
He enters the finale with 1,842 all-purpose yards: 854 rushing, 210 receiving and the remainder on various returns. He also picked off four passes in the opener against Fort Lupton and has eight interceptions overall.
“To think about him only on the football field isn’t doing him justice, because he’s a full-year, full-commitment football player,” Warriors coach Chad Senseney said. “He started lifting the day after we finished last season and didn’t stop.”
Also academically savvy, Buchler, whose eponymous father is the principal at Erie, is considering Colorado Mines as an option. The Orediggers understand that his size doesn’t define him, and could decide to give him a chance on the gridiron.
From the sounds of it, Mines is Buchler’s first choice. But he’s letting the process play out naturally.
“It’s one of the options on the table still, but I’m not really quite sure about it yet,” he said. “I’ve kind of been saving that for the end of the season, or for after the season, to worry about all that.”
Clearly, his 5-5 stature will steer many larger colleges away. But Senseney believes it would be travesty if Buchler wasn’t given a chance to perform somewhere at the next level.
“He’s got an unbelievable work ethic, he’s a smart player and he has a motor that just doesn’t stop,” Senseney said. “Those would be three things that I’d think, regardless of someone’s size, every football coach would want to hear. He’s just a great football player.”
For now, Buchler will concentrate on his final game in a Warriors uniform and soak in the experience one last time.
“I have very few regrets leaving,” he said. “I really liked our coaches and my fellow teammates. They’re my brethren.”
Centaurus will be sad to see him go as well. Buchler has scored 12 of the Warriors’ 24 touchdowns this season, a year after scoring 14 of their 19.
He also found the end zone 10 times as a sophomore.
“I think our kids see how he treats football and how he treats getting himself ready, and I think we’ve become better,” Senseney said. “Even though we haven’t won a bunch of football games this year, I think our program is heading in the right direction because of kids like Matt.”
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