ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman had a saying every time Tampa Bay Buccaneers fullback Mike Alstott plowed over someone in the closing minutes of a game: "In Alstott we trust."
The slogan fits nearly as well for the Dayton football team. Running back Kyle Onstott has been the player the Dust Devils have turned to in the closing moments to ice the game and has been a big reason for the team's 4-0 start, just one season after going 3-7. His play has helped the entire offense from quarterback keepers to the deep pass play.
"That's something I haven't seen since DYFL (Dayton Youth Football League), like five years ago," Onstott of the quick start. "We have a pretty good team this year."
The Dust Devils will play their homecoming game this week at 7 p.m. against Spring Creek, which they beat 21-14 last season.
The task of grinding down opposing defenses sounds big for a guy who is only 5-8, 145 pounds, but so far he has been able to live up to the expectations. Last week against Sparks the junior rushed 26 times for 113 yards, including a 49-yarder where he broke four tackles and used two spin moves to break free.
In four games he has rushed for 390 yards, but more importantly helped open up the offense. The Dust Devils had four passing plays of 20-plus yards in their 29-14 win over Sparks and even quarterbacks Connor Conroy and Kage Walker have found a few open running lanes while linebackers have had their eyes on Onstott.
The stout running game could be a byproduct of the Pistol offense the Dust Devils use, which relies heavily on the run game and sets both running backs and quarterbacks back a few extra yards to help read the defense and allow linemen to open up lanes. But if you ask Onstott, it is the latter that has set up the run game.
"Our line's huge. It's all about the line, I say," he said. "They're my brothers, I trust them too. As long as our line's doing good, there's a lot of trust there."
It helps that the Dust Devils boast one of the bigger offensive lines in the Northern 3A. Three of the five lineman weigh 260 or more, including 6-foot-4, 300-pound Justin Sabatonii. Their weight typically gets thrown around in the second half as Dayton tries to wear down its opponents, and so far it's worked to perfection.
"In the past few games, with our size and those kids up front, we've been able to wear teams down in the second half," Walker said. "We'd like to establish that run game earlier. So it seams like I'm saving it for the end, but that's not really the case. I think we're starting to get more consistent. I think the kids are getting more comfortable with our scheme ... Any coach will tell you they want to establish that run game, that's everything. Big plays are great, but if you can eat the clock and have a good run game that's very important."
Shear size aside, the Pistol has helped open things up too.
"Instead of going into a three- or five-step drop, you're already right there," Conroy said. "You have more vision of where you can run the ball to and more holes that you can see."