By Bill Foley
Casey Kautzman’s patience eventually paid off in a big way.
The Butte High senior kicker and punter waited until less than a week before the start of the NCAA football early signing period, and he finally got the offer he wanted all along.
Kautzman is going to be a Montana State Bobcat.
Butte High’s all-time leading kicker made the announcement of his commitment to MSU Sunday night on Twitter.
“There were times when it looked like it was going to happen and times when it didn’t,” Kautzman said. “I just had to be patient with it, and it worked out in the end.”
Kautzman, who will be a preferred walk on with the Bozeman school, will officially sign during a ceremony Wednesday at Naranche Stadium or the Richardson Gym.
“It all worked out,” Kautzman said. “They’re giving me a chance. I’m taking it and running with.”
Excited to announce my commitment to Montana State University! I would like to thank all of my family, friends, and coaches who have supported me! Go Cats!! #TrueBlue22 #406Specialists @bvigen @CoachWeeseMSU @CoachBobbyDaly @GreyArie @CoachZauner @torgersonkp pic.twitter.com/phzXVwtHQF
— Casey Kautzman (@CaseyKautzman) December 13, 2021
Kautzman leaves the Butte High football program with four varsity letters. He also owns nearly every Butte High career kicking record.
With classmate Keegen Muffich serving as his holder, Kautzman connected on 13 of 17 field goal attempts as a senior. He shattered the school record of eight field goals in a season set by Ralph Olson in 1924. Following the season, Kautzman was named All-State as a kicker and all-conference as a punter.
His 22 total field goals broke the previous record of 17 set by Matt Berg (2008-10), who went on to a strong career at Montana Tech. With a lot of help from future Montana State teammate Tommy Mellott, Kautzman shattered Butte High’s school mark with 125 career points after touchdown.
Berg held the record with 77. Kautzman went 24 for 25 on PATs as a senior, and the one miss was on a block.
Kautzman booted a 51-yard field goal at Missoula Big Sky this year to break the school record of 50 held by Berg (2010) and Jon Jourdonnais (2004).
Senior Season Highlights: 1st Team All-State Kicker, 2nd Team All-Conference Punter, Bulldog Special Teams Player of the Year, 13/17 FGs (finished 11th in the nation) 24/25 PATs Full Tape: https://t.co/FSZ6dZISsW pic.twitter.com/6imfJwxYla
— Casey Kautzman (@CaseyKautzman) December 2, 2021
Also, Kautzman kicked three field goals in Butte High’s win at Missoula Hellgate this season to tie the school record shared with Trevyn Roth (2018), Shanty House (1908) and Dalton Dawson (1925).
In addition to being a force with field goals, Kautzman’s kickoffs and punting almost always gave the Bulldogs an advantage in field position. He averaged 35.8 yards per punt on 32 kicks, dropping 14 inside the 20-yard line. On kickoffs, Kautzman averaged 57.9 yards and registered 27 touch backs out of 50 kicks.
Kautzman, the son of Brent and Dr. Jessie Kautzman, kicked in freshman, junior varsity and varsity games during his freshman season of 2018. He filled in for Roth, who was a standout on the Bulldog soccer team, in a handful of varsity games.
As a sophomore, Kautzman really bust onto the scene when be booted a 33-yard field goal through the rain as Butte High beat Missoula Sentinel 39-36 at the buzzer in Missoula.
Casey Kautzman toed it a bit, but it will do … pic.twitter.com/K2yA9Qp8lu
— Bill Foley (@Foles74) September 27, 2019
After his sophomore season, Kautzman decided to give up basketball and baseball to focus on football. He said that moved timed up well with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I wanted to focus on football,” he said. “I love this sport.”
While he still threw the javelin for the Butte High track team, Kautzman always had a football to bounce around between throws.
The summer before his junior season, Kautzman started giving back to the sport by offering free one-on-one lessons to any boy or girl who wanted to learn how to be a kicker. This past summer, when he was busy with camps and recruiting trips, Kautzman offered a kicking camp at the high school.
Kautzman visited the United States Air Force Academy about kicking there, and he recently received an offer from Sacramento State. He also talked to the University of Montana before the Grizzlies got a commitment from Kalsipell Glacier kicker Patrick Rohrbach.
That was OK with Kautzman, though, because he wants to study engineering. He’s leaning toward civil engineering, a program in which his sister Lexie is a junior at MSU.
“That’s probably fit for him,” Kautzman said of Rohrbach. “It wasn’t a good fit for me anyway.”
That is something to say for a boy who used to be a huge Grizzlies fan. Kautzman said he switched to the Bobcats because his good friend Max Demarais worked long and hard to convert him. He said he changed colors around his freshman year.
“He always said, ‘You’re going to be a Cat fan,’” Kautzman said of Demarais. “I turned out to be a Cat fan, and now I’m a future Bobcat.”
Former Bobcat assistant B.J. Robertson recruited Kautzman to go to the Cats, and he started to set his heart in that direction.
When the coaching staff changed before this season, though, things changed. Or, it looked like they would.
This weekend, Kautzman’s patience paid off, and he is the second Butte High football player to commit to MSU in the last few weeks.
Bulldog Dylan Snyder announced his commitment to MSU the night before Thanksgiving.
Kautzman, who has dreams of kicking in the NFL, said he is looking forward to teaming with Snyder and taking the field to boot extra points after Mellott touchdowns again.
“It’s pretty cool,” Kautzman said. “When’s the last time two Butte High guys went to the Bobcats in the same year?”
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