INDIANAPOLIS – Butler University’s football team earned it first NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoff berth this season, but it might not have happened without a pair of Downers Grove South alums.
Redshirt junior JoJo Ciancio and senior Jimmy Schwabe both saw significant time in the Bulldogs’ defensive secondary, and helped the team to a second straight Pioneer Football League title and the conference’s first automatic playoff berth.
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Schwabe played in 11 games this season, starting three. He finished 10th on the team in total tackles with 36 and tied for eighth on the team with 25 solo tackles.
He tallied a career-high eight tackles against Dartmouth Sept. 21 and picked off two passes in the Bulldogs’ 45-27 win at Jacksonville Sept. 28.
Ciancio, a 5-foot-9, 190-pound defensive back, saw action in all 13 games this season, made three starts and finished tied for eighth on the team with 41 tackles. He was tied for third with 31 solo tackles and recorded a career-high eight takedowns in a 35-14 win against Campbell Oct. 12.
Butler’s season came to a close in the first round of the FCS playoffs with a 31-0 loss to Tennessee State. Schwabe tallied five tackles, three solo, in the game.
Ciancio (from Darien) and Schwabe (from Downers Grove) were part of Butler’s opportunistic defense that ranked third in the FCS with 30 takeaways in 12 regular season games, and the DGS pair combined for five of those. Schwabe had two interceptions and a fumble recovery playing cornerback and Ciancio had one of each while playing both free safety and strong safety this year.
Ciancio and Schwabe graduated from DGS in 2010 and were key defensive stalwarts on a Mustang team that went to the quarterfinals in 2009.
Both have been key players the last two seasons as the Bulldogs went 14-2 in PFL play.