By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports
Just keep telling yourself …
It’s just another game.
It’s just another game.
“We don’t change anything,” said Byrd coach Stacy Ballew. “Every game throughout the season is important.”
“We don’t put any more importance on this game than any other game,” said Captain Shreve coach Adam Kirby.
See? They told you so! No matter how you phrase it, this is just … another … game.
One team will kick it off at around 7 tonight at Lee Hedges Stadium as Byrd and Captain Shreve will proceed to play four quarters of football (and maybe more).
Both teams are ranked in the statewide LSWA Class 5A poll (Shreve at No. 7; Byrd is at No. 9). Both are undefeated. Both are beginning play in what figures to be a very competitive District 1-5A race. Both expect their biggest crowd of the season to be sitting on their side.
And both want to beat the ever-loving excrement out of the other. (Oh, sorry; was that out loud?)
If there is an annual circle-the-date-on-the-calendar game every year, it’s when the “school on Line Avenue” takes on the “school on East Kings Highway.” That’s a nod to the vocabulary used by coaches in the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, but you should also know that the reference has already been used in the weeks before the season even started.
Histrionics aside, this is a game you want to play in. And see.
It’s hard to ignore how well it all set up. When district schedules were drawn, it just happened to fall this way, that Shreve and Byrd would play the opener. That was just the luck of the draw.
The fact that both are undefeated has nothing to do with luck. Byrd has outscored its opponents 94-36; Shreve is up a combined 96-42 in three games.
But there is always room for improvement.
“We’ve got to be concentrating on doing things right,” Ballew said. “We saw that last week (in a 14-7 win over Calvary). It’s just the little things we are trying to improve on. It’s the first step or our head placement. Or alignment. Or our angle. It’s not mental busts. It’s about playing the game with better technique.”
“Being 3-0 is nice,” Kirby said. “I like it better than the other side. But we have a lot to work on. At times, we have been inconsistent. We can get a little too comfortable, especially when we get a lead. But I am really proud of our effort and how hard our kids play.”
The winner will get bragging rights, for whatever that is worth. The loser will quickly remind itself that the season isn’t even halfway over. How everybody else handles it is their business.
“I think this game holds a lot more importance to people outside our program than to those inside our program,” Kirby said. “It’s the first district ball game. It doesn’t matter who we are playing.”
Contact J.J. at firstname.lastname@example.org
Captain Shreve (3-0) vs. Byrd (3-0), Lee Hedges Stadium
Series: Byrd 28-16
Last year: Byrd 28-10
Last week: Captain Shreve beat Union Parish 31-21; Byrd beat Calvary 14-7
Rankings: CS is No. 3 in SBJ poll, 7 in LSWA 5A poll; Byrd is No. 1 in SBJ, 9 in LSWA 5A
Radio: CS (KLKL.FM, 95.7 FM); Byrd (The Tiger, 1130AM, 103.3 FM)
Notable: Last week, Jordan Wiggins made his first start at WR. Wiggins rewarded head coach Adam Kirby’s decision with a team-high five catches for 103 yards and a TD. “Jordan has worked really hard to get on the field and then when he does, he’s not afraid to go across the middle, and fight for extra yards. He blocks really well on the perimeter” … Kirby says the key to stopping Byrd’s Wing-T offense is maintaining “discipline in our assignments and not go chasing because of what we THINK they are doing. We need to trust our coaching, play fast, and do our job. I feel really good about the game plan coach (defensive coordinator Chip) Kendall and the defensive staff have put together. I’m looking forward to seeing those guys play fast and having fun Thursday night” … The Shreve-Byrd rivalry may be more important to Shreve fans than Shreve players. “We talk a lot in our program about taking it one game at a time and not focusing on end results,” Kirby said. “No one in our program cares about the rivalry or the importance that other people are placing on this game. It’s another week and another opportunity to go 1-0. We don’t focus on the big picture as much as we focus on ourselves and whether or not we’re playing to our standard every single day.”
Byrd scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to defeat the Gators at Independence Stadium a year ago … Byrd has won 25 of the last 28 meetings over Captain Shreve. … Byrd and Captain Shreve are 3-0. They share a common opponent in the last two weeks. Byrd beat Calvary 14-7 last week. Shreve beat Calvary 27-14 in the second game of the year … This is the 45th meeting between the two schools in a series which began in 1967 with a 48-0 win by the Yellow Jackets. Shreve, under the direction of legendary head coach Lee Hedges, went on to win the next nine straight.