Unbeaten Butler sizing up as GWOC North contender

At 5 feet 10 and 210 pounds, Vandalia Butler head football coach Greg Bush labels Tim Smith a classic undersized, overachiever. That’s because Smith excels at center in a conference that often features bigger running backs.

But Smith has a couple of other difference-makers working for him.

“It’s all technique and footwork,” he said during a break in practice this week. “Size does help, but if you’re fast enough and your technique’s good enough you can take on anybody.”

The unbeaten Aviators have done just that with positive results. Butler (3-0) is at Xenia (0-3) in a Week 4 Greater Western Ohio Conference crossover high school football game at 7 p.m. today.

Butler pounded Springfield Shawnee 56-28 and Tecumseh 52-0, then served as the opening opponent last week for Wilmington’s renovated Alumni Field, which hadn’t hosted a Hurricane game since 2007. Butler won, 29-20.

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Butler hasn’t had a start like this since the 2011 team was 5-0, but slumped to 6-4. Last season Butler dropped consecutive games to Tecumseh, Wilmington and Xenia by a total of 11 combined points and finished 4-6.

That provided the resolve for a deep and talented group of seniors.

“This is the same group that’s been here a while,” said Bush, in his seventh season guiding Butler. “It’s a good group of seniors and we’re getting quality leadership out of them. And there’s some quality kids playing well behind them. It’s a good mix.”

Senior running back/linebacker Nic Martin has benefited most from Butler’s new hurry-up offense. He leads the Aviators with 297 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Sophomore Logan Flatt has rushed for 234 yards and six scores and is a punt and kickoff return threat.

Senior quarterback Chandler Craine has completed 36 of 69 passes for 529 yards and eight TDs.

Butler will be at Springfield (1-2) next week then begins its GWOC North Division journey that concludes with a Week 10 showdown against visiting Trotwood-Madison (3-0). Trotwood has won 32 consecutive divisional games and the last seven North titles.

Like last season, the Butler/Trotwood outcome could determine the divisional winner and home-field playoff advantage. GWOC South member Miamisburg (3-0), Butler and surprising Stebbins (3-0) are the area’s best D-II playoff bets. Trotwood is tops in D-III.

“It’s really been a great accomplishment,” Butler senior Curtis Davis Jr. said. “We all came together and worked so very hard these last couple of weeks. This is what we wanted to achieve but we’re still going to aim higher.”

• There’s no letup for Centerville (1-2), which hosts Trotwood in a great GWOC crossover game today. Next week Centerville is at Greater Catholic League South power Elder (3-0). Trotwood was ranked No. 3 in the debut of this week’s Associated Press state polls and Elder No. 1 in D-I.

Centerville outlasted Lebanon 40-35 last week. The Elks lost to Fairfield and Springboro by a combined four points. Today’s game will be replayed on Time Warner Cable Channels 1311 (HD), 311 and 99 at 11:30 p.m. and 11 a.m. on Sunday.

• Southwestern Buckeye League divisional play begins today and the fate of the Buckeye Division could be decided when Carlisle (1-2) hosts Waynesville (1-2).

Waynesville beat Carlisle 38-21 last season and shared the divisional title with Madison. Carlisle beat Waynesville in 2012-13 and won the division both those seasons.

“Obviously, Carlisle and Waynesville are usually two of the top programs in the league,” Waynesville coach Brandon Philpot said. “There are some other good teams in the league that will be in the mix too, but it’s become a big rivalry game. Both are used to winning and having success.”

• Only two of the 14 SWBL teams remain unbeaten at 3-0, Southwestern Division rivals Brookville and Valley View. They’ll play Week 9 at Germantown. Brookville has mounted a 98-13 scoring advantage in defeats of Tri-County North, Anna and Dixie, by far the league’s best scoring differential.

• Alter (3-0) begins its quest for a 14th consecutive GCL North Division title at Fenwick (3-0) today. The Knights have won nine of their last 10 meetings, losing only in 2012. “The league title runs through Alter,” said Fenwick coach Joe Snively.

Fenwick has allowed just eight points and posted two shutouts. Alter has allowed seven points in its last two games.

“We’ll both have a few more answers about our teams after this week,” Alter coach Ed Domsitz said. “And it’s not wholly out of the question that we could face each other again.”

That’s because both are lumped in D-IV, Region 14.

• Trotwood and Alter have something in common: they both shut out Thurgood Marshall. Trotwood put a 46-0 number on Thurgood in Week 2 and Alter posted a 26-0 blanking last week. However, Alter was without starting junior QB Ryan Markoff, who was injured. In his place was sophomore Alden Simms.

“It’s always nice when your No. 2 quarterback can step in there and you win a football game,” said Domsitz.

• The first Harbin computer rankings will by released on Tuesday by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

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