One of the squads that defeated Unatego was neighboring Sidney. Its coach, Jeff Matthews, was named The Daily Star’s Coach of the Year for the fifth time, most recently in 2006.
At 6 feet and 200 pounds, Butler amassed impressive totals. He rushed 724 yards on 80 carries and scored 12 touchdowns. He also completed 53 of 105 passes for 904 yards and nine TDs. Defensively, he made 70 tackles, intercepted two passes, forced six fumbles and recovered four.
While the physical brand of football he played over the last three seasons as a Spartans starter was apparent even to the novice fan, Microni said his understanding of Unatego’s complicated spread offense proved equally important.
“He definitely has a football mind,” Microni said of Butler, Unatego’s first Daily Star Player of the Year since Tosh DeMulder in 2003. “In that offense, he had a read on every play be it run or pass. If it is run, it went as far as two or three reads and he could deliver the mail.”
Added Butler: “There was a lot to learn, but I’ve learned it over the last five years. Everything is kind of on my shoulders. I’m kind of a coach on the field.”
Perhaps Butler’s best read of the season came on a play that didn’t count.
In the third quarter of the Section Four Class D semifinal against Tioga, Butler followed speedy backfield mate David VanAlstine toward the right side of the line. As a tackler moved in on VanAlstine, Butler pulled the ball back and headed free up the right sideline at Binghamton Alumni Stadium. Butler sold the fake so well that an official whistled VanAlstine — a Daily Star First Team running back — down even though he didn’t have the ball.
That whistle negated what would have been a 53-yard scoring play — a huge call as Unatego wound up losing by five points to a Tioga squad that advanced to the Class D state semifinals.