It took a day or so to figure it out, but William Byrd will play E.C. Glass at Lynchburg’s City Stadium when the Group 4A, Region D playoffs begin Friday night.
At one point Sunday afternoon the Byrd coaches thought they were playing Salem. The VHSL released the playoff pairings Sunday and had Charlottesville fifth and Byrd sixth. However, they switched gears by the evening when it was determined Byrd, who was dead even with Charlottesville in the point system, won the tie-breaker for the fifth seed.
“We tied Charlottesville on points and then the VHSL applies more rules for the tie-breaker,” said Byrd coach Jeff Highfill. “All I know is we came out dead even but we won the tie-breaker. It was very close.”
First round pairings now have top-seeded Blacksburg hosting Jefferson Forest, second seeded GW-Danville hosting Amherst County, third seeded Salem hosting Charlottesville and fourth seeded Glass at home against fifth seeded Byrd on Friday at 7 pm in Lynchburg. If the Terriers win they would play the Blacksburg-Jefferson Forest winner the following week, and if Forest would pull an upset Byrd would even get a home game.
For now, however, Highfill and his staff is only worried about Glass. The Hilltoppers enter the post-season at 7-3 but they’ve lost their last two games, to Liberty Christian on October 27 and Amherst, 28-21, last Friday. The loss to Amherst County dropped Glass to fourth in the Group 4A, Region D rankings, allowing Salem to pass them. Glass was in the number one spot for much of the season.
Byrd coach Highfill, and long-time Terrier fans, are familiar with Glass coach Jeff Woody. He was the coach at Brookville during the days when Logan Thomas was their quarterback. Byrd and Brookville had some epic battles during that time, including a 56-35 Byrd win in 2007, followed by a 49-34 Brookville win in ’08.
“This team reminds me a lot of Brookville from a few years ago,” said Highfill. “They like to spread you out and they have good athletes.”
If the game is like the ones with Brookville 10 years ago, it will be entertaining. However, if the Terriers play like they did against Northside last week it could be a short post-season for the Terriers. Byrd was able to escape Northside with a 23-20 overtime win and Highfill called it their worst effort of the season.
“We had a lack of focus,” he said. “Before the game my assistants came to me with a worried look and said we weren’t ready. I’m the head coach, I’ll take the blame for that.”
The game started off poorly for visiting Byrd. The Vikings ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown. Then Byrd fumbled on their first play and Northside made it 14-0 when Princeton Hall ran a sweep 55 yards for a touchdown.
“We’re down 14-0 and we’d run one offensive play,” said Highfill. “On both of those touchdowns we didn’t lay a hand on him.”
Byrd’s woes continued, including a snap over Larry Basham’s head in the “mad dog” formation that lost 20 yards. In the first half alone the Terriers had possessions that led to four fumbles, two bad snaps and a blocked punt. If not for Aaron Stanley’s interception in the end zone it could have been a lot worse than the 17-3 lead the Vikings had at the half.
“We didn’t make a single adjustment at halftime,” said Highfill. “It was all about changing attitude.”
The Terriers came out for the second half on a mission, and managed to accomplish it. Basham scored on a 52 yard pass play from Sam Dantzler in the third period to cut the lead to 17-10, and Logan Taylor capped a drive with a five yard run in the fourth quarter to tie the game and send it into overtime.
Northside went first in the overtime and kicked a field goal. Basham then put it in the books for Byrd when he went 10 yards on first down for a touchdown and the win.
Larry finished with 134 yards on 28 carries while Dantzler had 33 yards on 10 attempts and Taylor had 10 on two. Dantzler was three for five passing for 96 yards.
On defense Thomas Adams led the team with 16 tackles, followed by Taylor with 11. TJ Johnson and Hunter Meador had 10 tackles each while Trevor Hill had nine.
The win gave the Terriers their second straight 9-1 regular season. Byrd is 19-3 overall in the past two years.