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Terriers have tougher schedule down the home stretch

William Byrd’s Larry Basham has a shot at passing Grayson Overstreet for the VHSL alltime touchdown record. PHOTO BY JIM DEVINNEY

The William Byrd football team will return from their bye week with a Homecoming Game against William Fleming this Friday night at Patterson Stadium. Game time in Vinton is 7 pm.

The Terriers will host a foe they defeated in their last game before the break. Byrd won at Fleming on September 30, 49-20, to remain undefeated at 6-0. The Terriers have to play the Colonels twice this year to fill up the schedule and the bye week fell between those games.

Terrier coach Jeff Highfill scouted the Colonels in their game at Northside last week despite seeing Fleming up close and personal the week prior. He saw an improving team that gave the Vikings a scare before falling, 27-20.

“Their best running back, who missed our game, was back,” said Highfill, referring to Malik Traynham. “They were right in it until the end.”

Fleming scored on a 48 yard pass play and an electric 57 yard run by Traynham in last week’s game. The Colonels can hurt you with the big play.

“They’re very explosive,” said Highfill. “They can drop back and throw it deep and usually their athlete is going to be better than our athlete. The next thing you know they’re in the end zone.”

With that said, there’s no denying the Terriers are the better team. Byrd comes in at 6-0 while Fleming is 0-7. The Colonels couldn’t stop Byrd tailback Larry Basham in Roanoke, as the senior standout scored six touchdowns in that game.

While Staunton River’s Grayson Overstreet is getting a lot of the ink, and rightly so, Basham’s accomplishments have been somewhat overlooked. Last week Overstreet scored three times against Franklin County to give him 115 touchdowns in four years of varsity football at Staunton River. He broke the old record of 113 held by William Campbell tailback Cedric Peerman, who went on to play at the University of Virginia and in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals.

In the same four years Basham has scored 111 touchdowns. He’s certain to pass Peerman and he has a shot at catching Overstreet for the all-time record. It could go down to which team does the best in the playoffs.

Certainly Overstreet has had the edge so far in the post-season. Basham has played in just two post-season games in his first three varsity seasons while Overstreet played in five during the 2016 season alone. In addition, the Golden Eagles aren’t averse to running up the score while Basham usually sits out a quarter or more with a big lead.

Larry has already shattered the William Byrd record. After the six touchdown performance against Fleming he now has 672 points scored for his career. The former Byrd record was 468 by O.J. Thomason, who is the all-time leading rusher in Virginia High School League history.

Overstreet is also moving in on Thomason’s rushing record of 7,535 yards, and there’s a chance he could pass O.J. this week or next. Staunton River will host Northside this week and Byrd on October 20. It would be interesting if Overstreet would be playing Byrd with O.J.’s record still intact.

Basham isn’t too far behind Thomason and Overstreet in the rushing department. Larry has 6,808 yards rushing to date and he can pass O.J. for the Byrd record, at least, with 738 yards in the next four regular season games. That’s not even counting possible playoff games, and Byrd is guaranteed at least one and possibly more if the Terriers continue to play well.

Byrd is currently ranked sixth in the VHSL Region 4 D standings despite being the only undefeated team remaining in the region. The top eight make the playoffs.

E.C. Glass retains the number one spot with a 5-1 record, followed by 6-1 Blacksburg, 5-1 Charlottesville and 5-2 Salem. The top four teams get first round home games.

GW-Danville is currently fifth at 5-1, followed by 6-0 Byrd, 4-2 Jefferson Forest and 6-1 Pulaski County. Obviously, the strength of Byrd’s schedule thus far is what’s keeping the Terriers from being ranked higher.

After six games the six opponents Byrd has played have a combined record of 5-32. Hidden Valley, Bassett and Fleming are all winless, Cave Spring has won once and Martinsville and Richlands have two wins each.

Byrd has a chance to climb in the next four games, should they be successful. They play winless Fleming again and the Colonels may not win a game this year, as they play Staunton River and Lord Botetourt in their two games after Byrd. However, Fleming is a Group 5A school and that counts for something.

The Terriers will play Staunton River, Lord Botetourt and Northside in their final three games and those teams are a combined 16-4 thus far, with Staunton River still undefeated and LB having lost once, to Staunton River. If Byrd can run the table they’ll shoot up in the rankings, and if they go 3-1 that’s probably good enough to get a first round home game.

“It’s going to get a lot tougher from here on,” said Highfill. “We always had a tough schedule in the past, and a lot of that is out of our hands. Salem dropped us, and we wouldn’t have dropped Magna Vista had we known that. And some of these other teams have been good in other years.”

Byrd’s junior varsity team will be at Fleming tonight for a 6 pm start and the middle school Terriers will wrap up their season tonight with a 5 pm home game against Northside Middle at Patterson Stadium.

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