Thursday, September 11, 2008
Football’s back for H.W. Byers; Byhalia takes 12-0 win in opener
By CLAUDE VINSON
After over three decades, football returned to the H.W. Byers athletic program Thursday, Sept. 4. Excitement was thick when the teams took the field. By the size of the crowd in attendance at Byhalia, one would think the game was between a pair of varsity teams.
The Indians took the ball first with Markeise Rodgers calling signals for the junior Indians. His first two plays were handoffs to Devonte Norman. After a couple of painful penalties, the Indians advanced to the Lions’ 22. Rodgers faked to the setback and took off around right end, being convoyed by Norman and Andrey Collins. He wasn’t stopped until he had crossed the goal-line. They tried a two-point conversion with Damien Rayford as the carrier. He was pulled down just short of the goal line. The experienced Indians had struck first with a 6-0 lead.
Christopher Echols was under center for the junior Lions and he called an end-around with Javis Spencer getting the ball. There wasn’t much there and the Lions went out with very little advance. The quarter ended before the Lions had another possession.
The Lions had been unsure and timid during the first period, which is normal since this was their very first game situation against an outside opponent. But their fefense picked up their game and started to exert pressure on the Indian offense. Byhalia was using short bursts up center and off tackle to keep possession and run the clock. They controlled the ball until intermission and still had a 6-0 lead.
Opening the third quarter, Echols took to the airways and used a flare to get within 3 yards of a first down. But the offense had to give the ball up on the fourth.
The Indians wasted no time in gaining a pair of first downs, but the Lions’ defense was getting more and more aggressive. They caused and covered a fumble which afforded them good field position at their own 48. The offense was still trying to find the right combinations and had to give up the pigskin.
The Indians were still using Norman and Collins as their main vehicles and moved the chains twice. The Lions’ defenders were starting to read plays and were striking hard at the core of the Indians’ offense. They had set the Indians back a couple of times when, trying to make up loss yardage, Rodgers passed right into the hands of a waiting Lion.
The Lions were trying desperately to score. They gambled on a fourth and 3 and didn’t make it.
The Indians had been held scoreless by the Lions for two and a half quarters. They were looking to add one more TD. Collins took a flare from Norman, eluded one would-be tackler and tried a dive into the end zone; however, his knees hit the turf before the ball broke the plane. They were hit with three consecutive penalties before Norman took it in. They still could not convert the PAT, but were out front 12-0.
The Lions had less than a minute in which to try and avoid the shutout. They moved the ball but had to get reckless which ended in and interception.
Head coach James Kimbrough was pleased with his team’s first-ever performance – “We showed up pretty well against a bigger, stronger and experienced team. We are going to keeping hitting and grinding until we gain the experience we need.”
The junior high Indians are led by head coach C.B. McClatchy.
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