Burn Hills – Reliable kickers are a relative rarity in high school football. Excellent is a luxury.
Burnt Hills-Bolston Lake head coach Matt Schell has done a lot of both during his tenure with the Spartans, and senior Michael Sabutoni is the latest.
“We’ve been lucky with a good kicking game in the past,” Shell said. “Michael really nailed it this year.”
Sbuttoni has been the placekicker of the Spartans since he was a sophomore, and has established himself as one of the most accurate kickers in Section II. He has converted 102 extra points from 106 throughout his university career, and hasn’t lost a single PAT during his junior and senior seasons.
This season, he is 44 out of 44 on extra points and 3 out of 4 on field goals. Throw 14 touchbacks and 15 punts on 55 kickoffs averaging 39.1 yards – including five punts on longs of 51 and inside 20s – and Sbuttoni’s right leg was a valid weapon for the Spartans on special teams going into Saturday’s Section II Class A. Is. Championship game against Queensbury at Shenandoah High School.
“He’s really good at what he does,” Shell said. “He’s an excellent punter and he’s a really good field goal and extra points kicker. It’s nice to have a high school kicker who can really do damage.”
Sbuttoni’s kicking exploits bring to mind the likes of former Spartans star Paul Layton, a 2009 Burne Hills graduate who went on to an extraordinary collegiate punting career at UAlbany and Temple.
In fact, Layton is a big reason why Sabatini reached his level of success.
“Paul Layton, he coached me as a kid,” Sabutoni said. “Just following in their footsteps, it means a lot.”
The Spartans haven’t been in many close games this year – their two meetings with La Salle Institut are the only games the team has decided with less than 21 points – but both of those close games have been a gap to Sabatini’s right boot. .
It was Sabutoni’s 37-yard field goal that provided the margin of Burn Hills’ 24-21 win at La Salle on September 24, and in the Class A semi-final against the Cadets last Friday, it was his successful extra point kick – which The late in regulation came just minutes after a potentially game-winning field goal – which gave the Spartans a 21-20 overtime win and sent the team back into the championship game.
“It’s nice to have the opportunity,” Subatni said. “My line, holder, snapper did a great job both times. I was able to get it done, and we were able to come out with wins in both games.”
Sbuttoni certainly envisioned the prospect of being called in to attempt another big kick on Saturday against Queensbury.
“It’s good to picture it in your head before it happens,” he said. “You’re there right now.”
How far can that kick come?
Well, Sabutoni said that in drills and warmups, his range is usually around 50 yards. He hit one out of 46 yards when the Spartans were running through their special teams during practice on Wednesday.
Sbuttoni’s ability would certainly give the Burne Hills offense stall Shell additional options within its range.
“It’s nice to know you can try that kind of thing,” he said. “At times, teams are going for it, and fourth-down games like this are tough.
“But, if you can come up with some points, it’s good to have the confidence in the kicking game to do that.”
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