BYRON, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — There is no shortage of drama in the Big Northern Conference in these final two weeks of the football regular season. Next week Stillman Valley will host Genoa-Kingston and this week it’s Genoa-Kingston traveling to Byron in our Game of the Week.
The Cogs are 7-0 and tied with Stillman Valley for first place. The Tigers are a game back having lost to Stillman in week two. The Tigers have worked through a rash of injuries to key players, and now they’re as healthy as they’ve been since the season started and they’re ready for the stretch run.
“Our coaches talk about an 800 meter sprint,” said Byron tackle Tyler Elsbury. “The last 200 meters is really where you want to go finish hard. I think that’s what we’re doing right now.”
“We’re really starting to have some great practices here at Byron,” said Byron coach Jeff Boyer. “That’s what you like to see down the stretch. We just get better each and every week.”
The Tigers will have to be strong against the Cogs. Last year the Cogs gave them the toughest game they had all season until the State Championshp game. Byron won on a late touchdown 21-14.
“That was the most fun football game I’ve ever played in and the hardest game I’ve ever played in,” said Genoa-Kingston running back/linebacker Will Franson. “The boys were giving everything we had to try to scrap that one out. We’re expecting to bring the same energy this year.”
“It’s real fresh in our minds,” said Elsbury. “They’re going to be a big test for us. We’re treating it like a playoff this year, so we’re going to be ready to go.”
The Cogs returned nine starters on offense and eight on defense from that strong team last year. Their defense has given up only 52 points all season.
“They’re downhill and they’re fast,” said Boyer. “To me their defense really stands out on film.”
These two teams have similar styles with run oriented offenses. No surprise since Cogs coach Chad Wilmarth is a Byron graduate and he used to be an assistant coach at Byron for Boyer.
“Chad and I talk every single week,” said Boyer. “We’ve actually become probably closer friends over the last couple years then even what we were before.”
“I really respect coach Boyer,” said Wilmarth. “He really helped me out with what we do and how we do things.”
But Friday night’s game will be about the kids in the helmets and pads and two teams both hoping to win one very big conference game.
“The kids are excited and everyone’s looking forward to a really good game on Friday,” said Wilmarth.
Catch the highlights on WTVO 17 at 10 p.m. Friday and this weekend on the half hour Sports Connection (Mynetwork TV Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and Fxo 39 Sunday at 9 a.m.)