What a difference a year makes! After a winless season in 2021, including a loss to Liberty in Vinton, the William Byrd football team turned things around last Friday. Byrd traveled to Bedford and dominated the Minutemen, making every minute count in a 42-6 win.
“Our coaching staff was pleased with the effort, passion, and motivation we saw Friday night,” said Byrd coach Brad Lutz. “It was our first game, so there were mistakes made, but our players played a hard, physical football game and it was a lot of fun to watch.”
Obviously it was more fun to watch for the Byrd fans, who traveled to Bedford for the game. The Terriers got on the board first on a four yard TD run by Israel Hairston and you got the feeling things were going to be different this year. Byrd’s defense had made a stand in the red zone to deny the Minutemen early in the quarter and it set the tone for the game.
The Terriers used a big second quarter to pull away. Freshman tailback DeShannon Reed scored his first high school touchdown on a five yard run, then Hairston found Dominic Dulak for a 31 yard TD reception and the Byrdmen led 21-0 at the half.
Reed took over in the second half, scoring three more touchdowns. He found the end zone on runs of five and four yards in the third quarter, then scored on a 10 yard run in the fourth. He finished with 74 yards rushing on 11 carries, scoring on four of the 11. Davian Hopkins had 54 yards on 10 carries and Hairston ran four times for 43 yards.
On defense Dustin Richards was all over the field. He finished with 13 tackles, including five for losses, and added a sack. John Kiker also had 13 tackles and Jahdai English had six. The Byrd defense nearly had a shutout before allowing a touchdown in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand.
Byrd kicker Bricen Lancaster was also a big contributer to the win. In addition to being perfect on six extra point kicks he had two touchbacks on kickoffs, and on two others he pinned Liberty inside the 20.
“We played well in all three phases of the game, and we were able to rotate a lot of players in the game to build depth,” said Lutz. “Our success Friday was a result of a team effort. We had a lot of players contribute to the game and play well.”
While it was a nice win to open the season, Lutz saw some things that could use a little work.
“It’s so early in the season, every team has plenty to work on,” he said. “At this point, we need to keep building confidence by working on the details of being a strong football team.”
This week the Terriers will try to make it 2-0 when they hit the road again, this time playing at Bogle Field in south Roanoke County against Hidden Valley. The Terriers fell to the Titans at home last year, 42-10, but they’re hoping to turn that score around like they did at Liberty. Hidden Valley got off to a rough start last week with a 37-0 loss to Cave Spring but Byrd isn’t in a position to take anyone for granted.
“They are a well-coached team that is coming off a very successful playoff season,” said Lutz. “They have a solid core of linemen and are very talented on the perimeter. Their linemen don’t go both ways, so they are able to play very strong for all four quarters.”
Byrd’s jayvee team was leading Liberty at Patterson Stadium last week, 16-0 in the first quarter, when the game was stopped due to bad weather.
The middle school team lost to Cave Spring last week and will look to rebound with a game at William Fleming at 5:30 pm.