POCATELLO — There’s a lot to like about the way this Butte County team operates. The Pirates employ a cadre of athletic backs. They tackle well. They find the right spots to mix-in passes, too, which surprises foes expecting runs.

Still, the part that helped Butte County the most in its 42-12 win over Notus Saturday evening at Holt Arena, good for a spot in the 1AD1 semifinals, is that the group just rarely went down on runs.

“It’s huge. We talk about finishing north and south all the time,” Butte County coach Sam Thorngren said. “We have a stable.”

Treyton Miller totaled 23 carries for 135 yards and two scores. Quarterback Tyler Wanstrom carried seven times for 84 yards. Even burlier players like Talon Gamett entered the fray on offense, registering five carries for 47 yards. The numbers themselves, though, don’t tell the story like the way they run does.

Miller was a bear to tackle, barreling through defenders and keeping his legs churning, which forced Notus to gang tackle. When Wanstrom called his own number, he dashed away from slower Notus linebackers. Butte County also sprinkled in ballcarriers like Gamett and Lawson Moncur. What tied them all together: tackling them often required multiple players.

Butte County didn’t always give Notus chances to tackle, though. Wanstrom completed 4 of 7 passes for 53 yards and threee touchdowns. One went to Boone Gamett, an 11-yard connection, another found the hands of Trent Pancheri, who scored on a 32-yard hookup, and the other went to Ethan Smith, a 20-yard score.

All of that and more helped Butte County score 22 unanswered to pull away from Notus and earn a spot in next week’s 1AD1 semifinals, where Butte County will play Oakley.

“The first half, we played OK, but we were a little bit flat,” Thorngren said. “We had two coverage busts right in a row to let them in, so we weren’t real happy there, but they made some good plays, too. Really tough catches.”

The truth is that the two plays Thorngren described were the only two times Notus found life on offense. Both came in the second quarter. On the first play, Notus back Grayson Pylican took a misdirection handoff and raced 77 yards for a touchdown, helping his club even the score at 6-6. Then, as the clock expired in the first half, quarterback Benny Guevara lofted a pass to the end zone, where Tyler Stephens caught a deflected ball for a touchdown.

With that score, Butte County headed into halftime with a 20-12 lead. Notus was finding ways to hang around. Whether it would last seemed up in the air.

Butte County left no room for doubt. The hosts held Notus scoreless in the second half. In fact, Notus totaled just 89 yards in the second half. Butte County came up with a blocked punt, which set up another touchdown rush from Miller, and Boone Gamett flew in for a strip sack that he recovered for a 20-yard touchdown.

Notus played most of the game without starting quarterback Kaden Clemes, who exited early with an injury, but the reality remained: Butte County’s defense overwhelmed and rattled Notus, which scuffled and sputtered on offense.

“Our main goal is to be the most physical team on the field every time we get out there,” Thorngren said.

The excruciating part for Butte County is that the group has had to wait — a lot — for chances to prove it.

For one, the Pirates played just eight regular-season games this season, one fewer than they usually do. So they were off one week. Then, when they whalloped Grace to capture the 1AD1 District 6 crown, they earned a first-round bye in the playoffs. So they were off another week.

That’s a lot of waiting for a group of teenagers, especially ones who belong to such a prestigious program like Butte County’s.

“Which keeps us healthy, but it’s hard to get sharp,” Thorngren said. “So it was kind of nice to play a game into the fourth. Hopefully that helps, because going against Oakley, we’re going to have to be sharper.”

If you have a hunch that Butte County will be, you’re onto something. Oakley ended the Pirates’ season in last year’s quarterfinals. The Hornets also spent the season in the top half in the classification in the media and coaches polls.

That sets up an intriguing matchup, which may take place back here at Holt Arena, depending on Oakley’s decision, since they’re the hosts. Either way, the Pirates want to make one thing clear: What happened last year won’t unfold again.

“They’re good. They’re always good,” Thorngren said. “You go through the playoffs, at some point, you’re probably going to run into an Oakley or a Prairie or Raft. It’s always that. So they’re really good, really well-coached. I think it’s going to be a good game. I think it’ll be fun to watch.”

BUTTE COUNTY 42, NOTUS 12

Notus 0 12 0 0 — 12

Butte County 6 14 14 8 — 42

Scoring summary

First quarter

BC — Smith 7 pass from Wanstrom (2-pt no good), 0:13

Second quarter

N — Pylican 77 rush (2-pt no good), 9:53

BC — Gamett 11 pass from Wanstrom (2-pt good), 7:01

BC — Pancheri 32 pass from Wanstrom (2-pt no good), 3:44

N — Stephens 24 pass from Guevara (2-pt no good), 0:00

Third quarter

BC — B. Gamett 20 fumble return (2-pt good), 9:40

BC — Miller 4 rush (2-pt no good), 0:42

Fourth quarter

BC — Miller 2 rush (2-pt good), 5:45

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — Notus: Martin 4-56, Woodland 16-43, Clemes 2 (-7), Guevara 4 (-17), Aspiazu 3-27, Pylican 1-77. Butte County: Miller 23-135, Wanstrom 7-84, T. Gamett 5-47, Moncur 2-1, B. Gamett 1-5, Cutler 2-10, Twitchell 1-6, Hawley 1-6.

PASSING — Notus: Clemes 2-2-0 12, Guevara 8-10-1 82. Butte County: Wanstrom 4-7-3 53.

RECEIVING — Notus: Pylican 5-88, Woodland 3-5, Martin 1-7, Stephens 1-24. Butte County: Moncur 2-10, B. Gamett 1-11, Pancheri 1-32.

Greg Woods is a sports reporter at the Post Register. Reach him 208-542-6772 and follow him on Twitter at GregWWoods.

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