Thursday, September 4, 2008
There will be some history in the making this Thursday evening.
The H.W. Byers Lions travel to Byhalia for a junior high football game.
That’s right – football.
H.W. Byers is getting into the football business, and September 4 will mark the Lions’ first game in a long time. According to some sources, Byers had a football team about 35 years ago but the program was discontinued.
Byers is best known in the athletic arena for its basketball.
The Lady Lions won the Class 2A state championship last season.
The Lions have been state tournament participants many times in recent years.
But there’s a “new” sport brewing on Highway 72 in the north end of Marshall County.
Eventually, the Byers junior high program, which has been approved by the Mississippi High School Activities Association, will graduate up to the varsity level. The same process was followed in recent years at Byhalia, with the varsity football program being officially renewed in 2002.
Field preparations are well underway at H.W. Byers, but this season their seven games will all be played on the road. The football field is being built utilizing the existing baseball field – making it a field for both sports.
The big opener for the Lions kicks off tonight (Thursday) at 5:30 p.m. against rival Byhalia. Other road trips include Center Hill twice, Tunica Rosa Fort, Oxford, Coldwater and Holly Springs.
“We’re excited,” Randolph said. “This is history.”
A youth team in the community, the Mt. Pleasant Lions, has been very successful for several years and continues to generate lots of interest and support.
And football is coming on the other end of the county, too. Potts Camp will take to the football field, at the junior high level, next year – 2009-10.
The Marshall County School District recently acquired some land adjacent to the present Potts Camp campus. And a new athletic complex will be built – which will include a football stadium and baseball and softball fields.
“We believe this will be good for the schools (Byers and Potts Camp) and the communities,” Randolph said. “Athletics play an important part in the educational process.”
Academics and grades come first. I had that drilled into me as a youngster.
But extracurricular activities help build a better person. They teach teamwork, hard work, discipline, dedication, school spirit and the list of good qualities goes on and on.
The more opportunities we can give our young people, the better.
The choices should go beyond sports, too. Athletics are not for everyone.
And some choose both. I’ve seen football players who also play in the band and football players who have lead roles in high school musicals.
We have lots of talented young people in our county. We should give them every opportunity to excel – in the classroom and beyond.
This newspaper has always taken great pride in covering our schools in Marshall County. And our schools give us valuable assistance in accomplishing our goal of giving the students the recognition they deserve.
The “funny side” of this football thing is that since the announcement was made that Byers and Potts Camp were adding football, The South Reporter sports crew – myself, Claude Vinson, Lawrence White and Ronnie Day – have already been thinking about how we’re going to handle Friday nights in a few years.
Covering three schools - Byhalia, Holly High and Marshall Academy – on Fridays can be tough. Adding the Lions and the Cardinals to the mix will be challenging.
But we will be up to the challenge. It’s our job and we love it.
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