By CLAUDE VINSON
The football Lions from Byers High School took their spring practice show on the road last Thursday night, suiting up for tilt with the Wildcats of Walnut.
The Lions have some valuable experience to aid them in their early kickoff. They won the District 2-2A crown last season under first year head coach Chris Daniels and then dropped a close game at home (one point) against the East Union Urchins in the playoffs.
Natural attrition accounted for some roster changes but the Lions appeared aggressive and strong in their meeting with the Wildcats.
Montavious Reynolds was leading the offense for the Lions and they had first possession. The handoff only gained modest ground but Reynolds hit Khalyn Baker with a play action pass on the second play and he went in standing up for a clean six. They tried for the two-point conversion but failed. They had struck first, leading 6-0.
Will Quinn was calling signals for the hosts. Byers’ defense held tight until the third play when it drew an encroachment call. That gave the Wildcats a third and one and a handoff to Armani Linton gave then a first. Another 8-yard gain by Linton set up the first aerial by Quinn to Butch Wilbanks, who was brought down at the Byers 2. A handoff by the left guard netted six. Walnut came back with the same play for the deuce to go up 8-6.
The Lions went three and out, conceding the fourth. Walnut turned a pair of first downs on the ground. After a carry by Shawn Thornton they ended up on the 9. The third and goal try was snapped directly to the setback (Linton), who went to the three. The Wildcats called time and then sent Linton straight up the middle and he went in standing. They again converted for two and the quarter ended 16-6.
The Lions had to give up the pigskin again and the Wildcats kept the ball on the ground during their entire possession. They gained ground and moved closer to Byers’ goal. Wesley Cox took a handoff from about 22 yards out and walked the sideline for another score. They failed to convert, making it 22-6.
The Lions’ Davonta Gatewood took off on first play from scrimmage, picking up the first down and placing the marker beyond the 50. He swept right for another first. Reynolds turned a broken play into a golden trek and was finally stopped at the 10 of the Wildcats. Byers went for it on a fourth and goal from the one and met a stubborn Wildcats defense. The ball went over.
The Lions were penalized. The Wildcats were called for holding but gained a first on the next play. The quarter expired. After a play failed, Linton ran for about 63 yards, after breaking a couple of tackles, for another six. An extra-point attempt failed.
The Lions had a couple of more chances. They fumbled twice and lost one of them. They picked up a first inside the red zone but had a pass attempt intercepted. The final score was 28-6.
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