When William Byrd football coach Jeff Highfill enters Patterson Stadium Friday night to lead the Terriers in their game with Martinsville, it will be his 1,000th game representing the school as a head coach. And, he’ll be looking to pick up his fourth win of the 2017 season without a loss.
Highfill has been coaching football at Byrd since 1981, and until last spring he also coached soccer. He started the Byrd soccer program that began in the spring of 1982 and he was the sole coach until he stepped down following the 2016 season.
In the 37 years since Highfill was hired to coach at Byrd he’s won 198 football games and 446 soccer games. He retired from soccer with a 446-149-27 record, and through last week’s win at Bassett he’s 198-178-1 in football. That’s an overall record of 644-227-28 through 999 games with a winning percentage of .663.
“I guess that tells you I’m getting old,” said Highfill as he prepared for Byrd’s game against the Bulldogs. “But I still enjoy it. Certainly it’s a lot different now, because our society has changed.”
Highfill is enjoying this season so far, as the Terriers have been dominate on the gridiron. After last week’s 45-10 win at Bassett Byrd is 3-0 and has outscored three opponents 114-20. In last week’s win over the Bengals the Terriers ran up 472 yards of rushing on 61 carries, an average of almost eight yards per carry.
“I’m really pleased with the offensive line,” said Highfill. “We had to replace a lot of people from last year. At the beginning of the season I looked at the line and figured we were better in maybe one spot from last year, but they’ve done well.”
The whole offense was clicking against Bassett as the Terriers scored every time they had the ball. Byrd led 32-3 at the half and Larry Basham already had three touchdowns on runs of two, 10 and 21 yards, capping off solid drives. Sam Dantzler had a 22 yard TD run and TJ Johnson had a 30 yard run for a score. The only concern was failing on three of five conversion attempts, twice on kicks and once on a two point try.
Logan Taylor and Josh Moore had second half touchdown runs and Highfill was able to clear the bench early, getting some young players varsity time for the third week in a row.
Basham led the Terriers with 168 yards on 21 carries and Dantzler ran 12 times for 104 yards before playing just defense in the second half. Johnson had 59 yards on five attempts, Taylor had 51 on six and other Terriers who carried the ball included the following: Nic Hale 2 for 21 yards, Dylan Hatfield 3 for 7, Moore 3 for 12, Logan Baker 3 for 17, Hayden Lyle 2 for 8, Evan Vaught 3 for 11 and El’Amin Shareef 1 for 4.
Dantzler was four-for-four passing for 80 yards, all in the first half. Hale had two catches for 26 yards, Terrell Smith had one for 34 and Basham had one for 20. Through three games Byrd has yet to have a wide receiver catch a pass.
Defensively, Taylor had 12 tackles and had a high grade on both sides of the ball. Trevor Hill had six tackles, Johnson had five, Thomas Adams had four and Hunter Meador had three.
This week’s opponent, Martinsville, comes in at 1-1. There was a day when the Bulldogs were state contenders year after year, but with a struggling economy the school has dropped to Group 2A in enrollment. Last week the dogs picked up their first win, a 48-19 win over Chatham.
“They’re a lot like Bassett,” said Highfill. “They have some scary athletes. We can’t take them lightly.”
Byrd’s jayvee team beat Bassett last week, 23-0, and they’re also 3-0. The middle school lost to Central Academy.
Today the middle school will play Cave Spring at 5 pm at Bogle Field behind Cave Spring Middle, and the jayvees are at Martinsville at 6 pm.