The William Byrd football team will play their final home game of the season this when Staunton River comes to Vinton for the annual “Battle of Battle of Route 24.” It will also be the Soldier Tribute Game, with special uniforms to celebrate the occasion.
The Soldier Tribute Game is a tradition coach Brad Lutz’ family brought from Broadway when he was hired as head coach at William Byrd in 2019. The tradition started in 2010 and was inspired by the loss of Army Spc. Brian “Bucky” Anderson, who was an all-district football player and two-time state champion wrestler at Broadway HS. Anderson was killed by an IED explosion in Afghanistan on June 12th, 2010.
“While our team was already dedicating each game to a fallen military hero, our Soldier Tribute Game was created to honor all fallen soldiers, while paying a special tribute to Bucky,” said Lutz. “I’ve coached at three schools, and all three have lost one of their sons to combat. At Varina, we lost my teammate, Army Spc. Clarence Adams. At Broadway, we lost Army Spc. Brian Anderson. When I arrived at William Byrd, I found out that our community had lost 1 Lt. Terry Plunk.
“I grew up in a family of veterans, but when Clarence was killed my purpose and perspective changed. Since 2004 I have been given the opportunity to share Clarence’s story, and since 2010 I have been committed to sharing Bucky’s as well. It is a valuable lesson of sacrifice and honor and it has helped us build strong young men over the years. Friday, we will be honoring all Clarence, Bucky, and Terry.”
The Terriers would like nothing more than to honor the heroes by winning their first game of the season, and what better an opponent than bordering rival Staunton River. The Golden Eagles have had an up and down season at 3-2, with wins over William Campbell, Tunstall and Alleghany and losses to Liberty and Franklin County. The Eagles had their game with Northside postponed due to COVID concerns last Friday and rescheduled for next Tuesday, October 26.
“They are an improved team that is playing with a lot of confidence,” said Lutz.
Byrd is 0-6 with an unsettled quarterback situation. Starter Israel Hairston and backup Lane Shoemaker both left last week’s game with injuries and freshman Jahdai English finished up. He is the son of former Byrd standout quarterback Frank English.
“We have two quarterbacks preparing in practice for Friday’s game,” said Lutz. “We are very fortunate to have a good group of young quarterbacks, who are tough, football smart, and eager for an opportunity to play.”
English threw a touchdown pass to Cooper Minnix for the final score in last week’s 41-23 loss to Franklin County in Rocky Mount. Byrd trailed 35-7 at the half before scoring two fourth quarter TDs, a five yard run by John Kiker and the five yard pass to Minnix. Peyton Fuchs ran for a three yard TD in the second quarter.
Byrd fell behind early in this one. Jahylen Lee ran the opening kickoff back for an 80 yard touchdown, then Byrd fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Eagles recovered. On the first play from scrimmage a 16 yard TD pass put the Terriers in a big hole before they even ran an offensive play.
“Thirty seconds into the game we were down 14 points,” said Lutz. “Our team dealt with a lot of adversity Friday night and, unfortunately, we were not able to bounce back and earn a win.”
There were some bright spots. Fuchs ran for 117 yards on 18 carries and English had 47 yards rushing after entering the game and ran for two two-point conversions in addition to the TD pass to Minnix.
On defense sophomore Doniven Davis led the defensive line with seven total tackles and a forced fumble. Junior Dustin Richards led the defense with nine tackles and he also had a fumble recovery.
The jayvee team also lost to Franklin County last week, by two points, but the middle school finished their season with a lopsided win over Glenvar.
“I’m excited about the direction we are going in,” said Lutz. “A lot of players have gained valuable varsity and jayvee game experience.”