Jeff Highfill coached his 1,000th game(football and soccer) at William Byrd High School last Friday and picked up his 645th win. The Terriers had no trouble in this dogfight as they breezed past the Martinsville Bulldogs, 47-14, at Patterson Stadium.
With the win Byrd improved to 4-0 on the season, and the Terriers have outscored their opponents 161-34 over those games. This week the Terriers may have their toughest game to date as they travel to Richlands to take on the Blue Tornado.
Byrd is now 14-2 over the past two years and the only losses have been to Salem, the two time defending Group 4A state champ. The Spartans dropped Byrd off the schedule this season to pick up Dinwiddie, and the Terriers dropped Magna Vista, another traditionally strong opponent. Normally Byrd would have played those two in the first four weeks of the season, but this year Bassett and Martinsville replaced those two, and they’re a combined 1-5 so far.
“Obviously our schedule so far isn’t as strong as it’s been,” said Highfill. “We didn’t know Salem was going to drop us when we decided not to play Magna Vista.”
Byrd could still play Salem this year, but not in the regular season. The Terriers and Spartans seem to be locks to make the Group 4A playoffs, and this year there will be four regions instead of the two the VHSL has had the past few years. That increases the chance Byrd and Salem could hook up in a regional game, especially if both continue to do well.
Looking down the road, the schedule gets tougher from here. Richlands won’t be a pushover, then Byrd plays home-and-home games with William Fleming with a bye week in between. The toughest part of the schedule will be the last three games when Byrd is at Staunton River, home to Lord Botetourt and at Northside. Staunton River and LB are also undefeated thus far, but they still have to play each other.
Richlands is 1-2 this season with losses to Union High, a traditional power among the smaller schools in the state, and Blacksburg. The Bruins were Group 3A champs last year, defeating Staunton River in the final, but they’ve since moved up to Group 4A, so they’re another possible opponent for Byrd down the road.
The Blue Tornado has a strong football tradition and a fan base that takes the game seriously. From what Highfill has seen, they’ll be tough to prepare for.
“They run about 10 different formations,” he said. “They run everything from a spread to the ‘I’. Luckily, we’ve seen about all these formations so far this year, but not all at the same time.”
You’ll never see that at Byrd as long as Highfill is adding to his 1,000 plus games as coach.
“Good teams try to out-execute you,” he said.
Byrd certainly out-executed Martinsville last Friday on “Recreation Night.” The Terriers put up 26 points in the first quarter and led 41-14 at the half. For the fourth game in a row Highfill was able to clear the bench early in the second half.
Martinsville’s only two touchdowns could have been prevented. The Bulldogs scored on a 53 yard run by Nigel Davis in which he reversed his field and found some open artificial turf. Davis scored Martinsville’s other touchdown on a 78 yard fumble recovery.
Meanwhile, the Terriers had little trouble scoring when they had the ball. They took an early lead on a 37 yard TD pass from Sam Dantzler to Terrell Smith, then Dantzler ran 40 yards for a score. At that point Larry Basham went to work, scoring five touchdowns before he was pulled in the third quarter. Larry finished with 168 yards rushing on 18 carries, a relatively light load for the standout senior.
Dantzler finished with 81 yards rushing and 92 yards passing, completing seven of eight. Seven others added to the rushing total while Smith caught four balls for 46 yards, Thomas Adams caught two for 18 and Aaron Stanley and Logan Baker had one catch apiece.
On defense, Logan Taylor led the team, as usual, with 13 tackles. TJ Johnson, Hunter Meador and Adams had seven tackles each, Trevor Hill had six and Stanley had five.
The jayvees also won, 24-22, and they remained undefeated at 4-0. The jayvees will be off this week while the middle school is at Hidden Valley tonight.
Friday’s varsity game at Richlands will be Highfill’s 378th game as head football coach. He’s won 199 of them, so this week he’ll be looking at another milestone as the team tries to give him his 200th football win at Byrd.