By Sports editor Brian Hoffman
It wasn’t on Amazon Prime but Thursday Night Football came to Vinton last week when William Byrd High played host to Patrick County. The Terriers show no ill effects from a short week of preparation as they hammered the visiting Cougars, 49-6, behind a rushing attack that could not be stopped.
The Byrd offensive line of Blake Sankbeil, Dustin Richards, Bryson Lutz, Hunter Flynn, Hunter Richards and Jake Hilliard opened big holes all night and tailback El-amin Shareef was happy to run through them. Shareef finished with 226 yards rushing and six touchdowns on a special night for the Byrd senior. He wore uniform number 33 instead of his usual number 1 to honor Army Spc. Clarence Adams, who was a high school teammate of Byrd coach Brad Lutz at Varina High School.
“In September 2004 Clarence was killed by an IED in Baghdad, Iraq,” said Lutz. “Since that day, the football programs that I have been a part of have used the game of football to teach our players the true meaning of sacrifice by honoring Clarence in different ways. The year Clarence passed away, our running back at Varina High School, the school Clarence and I played at and the first high school I coached at, forfeited his jersey number to honor Clarence by wearing 33. That tradition was carried to Broadway High School, and we brought that tradition to William Byrd. El-amin was extremely honored to pay tribute to Clarence, and I was very proud of him for helping us pay tribute to him.”
Shareef couldn’t have had a better night. He ran for four touchdowns in the first half on bursts of 42, 23, 46 and nine yards as Byrd built a 28-6 lead. Then, he put two more scores on the board in the second half with a 16 yard run in the third period and a nine yard run for good measure in the fourth with the clock running continuously due to Byrd’s big lead.
“Our offense continues to improve each week,” said Lutz. “Our offense takes a lot of pride in preparing for a balanced game plan. On Thursday, Patrick County was prepared to defend our passing game, so our run game led the offense. Our offensive line led the way.”
Byrd’s only touchdown not scored by Shareef came in the third quarter when Tyler Dean intercepted a pass and returned it 27 yards for a score. It was Dean’s first game in uniform after missing the first three games with an injury, and he made his presence known with a game high 14 tackles.
“Tyler brings a lot of energy to our team,” said Lutz. “He is a very competitive athlete and loves football. It was great having him back. He brings a lot of confidence to the defense.”
In addition to Shareef’s rushing yardage Dylan Hatfield had 125 yards passing, hitting Ethan Tinsley and Hunter Harris twice each and Isaac Fix and Jeff Williams once each. Fix was perfect on seven extra point kicks and Isaac only had to punt twice.
The win evened Byrd’s record at 2-2 on the season and this week they play Northside at home on Saturday afternoon at 1 pm. It’s a big game as the Vikings are just one spot behind Byrd in the Virginia High School League 3D rankings. Byrd is fourth and the Vikings are fifth and only the top four make the playoffs this year.
“Northside is a very talented team,” said Lutz. “Their quarterback is as talented as any quarterback in Roanoke and they have a ton of speed and size. We are lucky to have a few extra days to prepare and get healthy.”
This week will be Byrd’s final home game and the Terriers will observe Senior Day as well as their annual Soldier Tribute Game.
Also, the Byrd junior varsity team beat both William Fleming and Franklin County last week while the middle school team won at Glenvar, giving the program a 4-0 week. The middle school team is still undefeated.