Last year was a magical year for Byron’s football team. The Tigers won their first ten games before losing in the second round of the playoffs.
They’ve been hit hard by graduation, but there could still be some more magic left for them.
The list of talented players that graduated is a long one…Bryce Scheffler, Brandon Elsbury, Justin Martinez and Trevor Koritz to name a few. Most teams couldn’t aborb losing players of that caliber, but the Tigers have a new crop of talent ready to go.
“They’re big voids for us, but it seems every year that we have our seniors step into those roles,” says head coach Jeff Boyer. “We have some guys that are going to step up this year and do those jobs for us.”
“We definitely did lose a lot of talent this year, but we are very underestimated because we had a lot of guys come back and we get in some new guys that are working their butts off,” says Byron lineman Raymond Corkran.
Not everyone graduated. Third year starting safety Nolan Bielskis is back on defense and at running back. Leading tackler linebacker Michael Criscione is also back. And the Tigers strength should be the offensive line where they have size and experience in Dawson Christian, Gunnar McCoy and Raymond Corkran.
“Our offensive line is definitely one of our strong suits this year,” says Boyer. “Gunner McCoy kind of anchors that as a three-year starter, but we have several guys that started all year last year.”
The Tigers are breaking in a new starting quarterback in 6’4 Rico Pauly.
“Pauly’s doing a real good job,” says Boyer. “He put in his time last year and was behind Brandon Elsbury so for him to come out as a senior and kind of take on that role that’s going to be a good thing for us.”
“He’s been looking great,” says Bielskis of Pauly. “Brandon was a great quarterback last year, but I think Pauly will be fine. He’s been looking good in practice by making great passes.”
One of the most encouraging signs for Byron is their overall numbers have gone up. The Tigers have 40 players on varsity. Only one is a sophomore.
“I think that’s as good as our numbers have been in a long time and we can do a lot of things with that,” says Boyer.