It only lasted a moment.
It looked scary at first. Unatego senior Tyler Butler headed left before cutting it up, a daring dash in heavy traffic that looked like it might result in a touchdown. But a Walton defender inadvertently stuck his hand in Butler’s facemask. At that moment, Butler’s helmet spun 180 degrees on his head as he wound up on the seat of his pants around Walton’s 5-yard line. In that second or two, he looked like Linda Blair in The Exorcist — body pointing one way and head appearing to be going the opposite way.
But thoughts of a serious injury quickly gave way to a light chuckle as Butler popped up and turned his helmet in the proper direction on his way back to the Spartans’ huddle.
The young man knows of only one way to play football — at 100 mph — and he showed it often on that September night at Unatego, throwing for 164 yards and three touchdowns, and rushing for 122 more yards.
Butler treated his body like he had a spare in his closet at home.
“He was our quarterback but in a linebacker’s mentality and body,” Unatego coach Frank Microni said of Butler, The Daily Star’s Player of the Year for 2012. “He was a First Team all-state strong safety on defense. He played tough defense and carried the ball that way. He’s one of the toughest kids I’ve coached. He took a beating against Tioga (a season-ending, 26-21 loss in a Section Four Class D semifinal), but he just would not relent. He just kept going and going.”
Be it as an ultra-physical safety or a strong-armed and fleet-footed quarterback, Butler hit, threw and ran the Spartans to a 6-3 record that was a lot better than it sounds.