Button helps Green Hornets to a lopsided win

WELLSBORO – Tanner Button ran cross country as a freshman. He then tried soccer as a sophomore and planned to go back for his junior year. But he received a little encouragement from some football coaches to make his way back onto the gridiron. He hadn’t played since junior high, but when he made his way back in August 2017, it felt like he never left. And Wellsboro hopes he doesn’t leave the football field again.

Button returned two punts for touchdowns and added a 57 yard touchdown catch as the Wellsboro defense and special teams dominated last night in its 36-8 win over Troy.

It didn’t take too much coaxing for Button to return to one of his first loves and last night, he put it all together when the Wellsboro offense needed a jolt. And after it was all said and done, all he had to show for it was a couple sore ribs after getting drilled over the middle on a slant route, and a huge smile.

“I guess we’re not going to hide him anymore. That’s out of the bag so he’s going to be a good football player,” Wellsboro coach Matt Hildebrand said of Button. “Last year was really the second year he’s played. He played one year in junior high and he hasn’t played since. He’s worked his butt off. He’s going to be a weapon for us. A lot of people key in on (Aidan) Hauser and (Silas) Wagaman, now we bring him into the mix now and he makes us pretty dynamic. I think they were trying to kick it away from Hauser tonight so you’re going to have to kick it to one of them or kick it out of bounds and that makes us pretty dangerous. He’s one of our captains, selected by the team, and I’m very proud of him for what he did tonight.”

On just his second touch of the season, Button took back a short punt 39 yards for the score late in the first quarter to give the Green Hornets a two-score advantage. He tight roped his way down the sideline, showing off unbelievable balance on his way to his first return touchdown. His second punt return touchdown came late in the third quarter to put the game out of reach and was much like the first one as he showed off his agility and vision, while picking up some major pancake blocks, on the way to a 47 yard punt return to essentially ice the game with as well as the Wellsboro front seven were playing.

“I had a night. I was lucky,” Button said. “Last Friday, Silas had a game, and this Friday, I had a game.”

On the next offensive series, Button added an equally impressive 57 yard receiving touchdown as he took the screen pass and made a handful of Troy defenders tackle air while he bounced off a few would-be tacklers on his way down the same path he blazed on his two return touchdowns.

The senior provided a jolt into a struggling offense that started off strong on its first drive but stalled in the middle quarters.

Before its first-half struggles, Wellsboro scored on its first drive in five plays that covered 68 yards. Facing a 4th-and-long deep in Troy’s territory, Karter Witmer (198 yards, two touchdowns) lofted a pass deep into the end zone where Silas Wagaman (four receptions, 45 yards) pulled a Randy Moss and out leaped the Troy defender for a 23 yard touchdown.

The offense had some major hiccups with two red zone interceptions and just one third down conversion in nine chances. But it didn’t need to have its A game with Button popping out and the defense playing lights out, namely the front four.

The area’s top ranked defense the last couple of years forced eight fumbles, five of which it recovered, picked off a pass late in the game, and allowed just 184 total yards and a measly 2.3 yards per carry.

Hunter Brown led the way with 10 tackles, two for loss and two forced fumbles. Tyler Hancock also had a big game with eight tackles, four for loss and a fumble recovery.

“We told the guys, if we win this game tonight, it’s going to be because of our interior line. They did a great job stopping Troy’s run all night long,” Hildebrand said. “Hunter Brown and Robert Brown, we put them down at tackles tonight and they’re beasts. Hunter Brown tonight, he had a freaking heck of a game on both sides of the ball. He’s a man out there. He’s going to draw a lot of attention. He’s had to block and he’s able to be used all around the field.”

So can Button.