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September 25, 2012

Unatego speeds past Walton, 49-32

By Rob Centorani
The Daily Star

---- — OTEGO — When Friday’s Section Four Football Conference non-division tilt between Unatego and Walton was about blocking and tackling in close quarters, the Warriors excelled.

When it was about using formations to get fast athletes in space, it belonged to Unatego.

The Spartans broke eight plays for 20 yards or more, including 51- and 52-yard touchdown runs by senior quarterback Tyler Butler, en route to a 49-32 victory before a big turnout on this calm night.

Butler ran for 122 yards and went 7-for-11 for 164 passing yards and three touchdowns. Speedy and diminutive backfield mate David VanAlstine rushed for 56 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries. He also caught three passes for 64 more yards and a touchdown.

“The line up front held their blocks and they blocked down field,” Butler said. “David made some people miss, I made some people miss, but the line did a good job. They gave us a good push.”

Perhaps the game’s biggest play came after Walton pulled to 29-26 on the final play of the third quarter. Warriors quarterback Dalton Kaminsky sprinted around the right end and beat a pair of Unatego defenders to the right pylon on an 8-yard touchdown run. Trevor Spencer then took a toss left from Kaminsky and scored standing up on the two-point conversion run to make it a three-point game and cap a string of 10 straight Walton points.

On the next play from scrimmage, Butler faked a give to VanAlstine, burst though a big hole in the center of the line, made a move to the right sideline and outran the pursuit on a 52-yard scoring run. The fourth of Josh Feyerabend’s five extra points extended Unatego’s lead to 36-26.

That began a run of 20 straight Spartans points in 2:08.

Walton senior running back Mike Beers, who rushed 30 times for a punishing 151 yards, fumbled on the second play of Walton’s ensuing possession. Codie Nichols recovered for the Spartans on Walton’s 29.

Two plays later, Butler lofted a perfectly thrown ball to Jon Wingate along the left sideline on a 20-yard scoring play. Feyerabend’s PAT made it 43-26 with 10:35 left in the fourth quarter.

Butler then made a diving interception in front of a Walton receiver on the Warriors’ next offensive play as Unatego took over on Walton’s 37.

After Butler rushed for 1 yard on the first play, he again showed perfect touch — this time hitting Tanner Winchester along the right sideline on a 36-yard scoring play as Unatego’s advantage ballooned to 49-26.

“I thought we executed our game plan well and I thought we threw the ball better than we have,” said Spartans coach Frank Microni, whose team is 1-2. “I think our offense is hard to defend because we run the spread option and not many teams run that.

“It helps us in our offense,” he continued. “We can spread the formation out. Plus, we have good athletes right now. We have good athletes and our line is playing pretty well.”

Much of Unatego’s success and a huge reason it had so many big plays was in part because of its four-receiver formation. Traditionally, Walton likes to put pressure on opposing offenses, but the Warriors had to devote four defenders to match up with Unatego’s receivers.

It started from the outset, with Butler racing 51 yards on the first play from scrimmage. The play looked similar to Butler’s 52-yarder in the fourth quarter. Again, he faked to VanAlstine before cutting up field, making a move to the left sideline and outrunning the pursuit. Feyerabend’s PAT made it 7-0.

“You have to sell that into the line,” Butler said of the fake. “The long you let that develop, the more the defense closes down on you and then you can get up into the hole and go.”

Walton answered in typical Walton fashion, driving 59 yards on 15 plays. Beers carried seven times on the drive for 31 yards. His final carry on the drive resulted in a 3-yard scoring run. He then scored on the two-point run to give Walton an 8-7 lead early in the second quarter.

It took four plays for Unatego to respond.

Butler found Wingate on a 36-yard pass play to move the ball to Walton’s 26. After Joe Sinistore dropped Butler for a 6-yard loss, VanAlstine took a handoff and broke five tackles along the left sideline during a 32-yard scoring run.

A 5-foot-5, 120-pounder, VanAlstine proved too slippery for Warriors defenders.

“With small players who are quick, it’s tough to get a good grasp of them,” VanAlstine said. “One second you see them and the next they’re gone. I try to use that to my advantage.”

When Walton’s next drive stalled on Unatego’s 27, the Spartans drove 73 yards in eight plays, with VanAlstine finishing on a 3-yarder, scoring untouched into the right corner.

When Walton’s next drive stalled on Unatego’s 27, the Spartans drove 73 yards in eight plays, with VanAlstine finishing on a 3-yarder, scoring untouched into the right corner.

Feyerabend’s PAT made it 21-8.

But Walton scored just before halftime, driving 58 yards in nine plays. Beers followed lineman Lucas Hammond into the end zone on a 6-yard run with five seconds left in the second quarter and Kaminsky’s two-point run made it 21-16 at halftime.

The Warriors (1-2) started the second half with a three-and-out and then had botched snap from punt formation, giving Unatego possession at Walton’s 37.

On third and 10, VanAlstine started in motion in right and ran an 8-yard hook on the right side. He caught a pass from Butler, cut across the field and ran up the right sideline on a 37-yard scoring play. Butler then scored on the two-point run to make it 29-16.

“It’s a big win,” Butler said. “I’m loving it right now and we’re loving it as a team.”