ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Byron High School has been blessed with some great football players over the years, like Adam Dach, Troy Drake, and Tyler Elsbury, and blessed with some great football teams. We witnessed two state runner up teams at Byron just the last two years. But the best collection of talent at one time, and the best team at Byron took the field in 1999, the year the Tigers won the school’s only state championship.
The Tigers were 13-0 and they took on 13-0 St. Joseph-Ogden in the 3A championship game. The Tigers came into that game averaging 48.6 points per game. Sean Considine had rushed for more than 1300 yards. Fullback Mark Cotter had rushed for more than 1200 yards. Matt Meline gave them another dynamic weapon at flanker, and the quarterback was current Byron head coach Jeff Boyer. The Tigers then were coached by Everett Stine who was celebrating his 60th birthday the very day of that championship game.
The Tigers proved that their gaudy stats were legit. They dominated this game. Cotter used his power to score four touchdowns and set a state championship game record by scoring 29 points. He also led the Tigers in tackles at linebacker that day.
Considine consistently got around the edge with his speed and quickness to rush for 189 yards and a touchdown. He also had a sack on defense from his safety position. And Boyer connected with Meline for a 21 yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
The Tigers led 27-0 at halftime. They led 41-0 at the end of the third quarter leading to a running clock. Coach Stine was able to pull his starters with eight and a half minutes still remaining in the game. The Tigers won 41-8 to capture Byron’s first state championship in football.
“We had a gut feeling that we could be down here, but we had to work at it,” said Boyer that day. “We did and we reached our goal.”
“We’ve always wanted this,” said Considine after the game. We wanted this since I can remember. It’s coach Stine’s first time being here. It’s Byron’s first time being here, so it just meant a lot to everybody.”
Considine joined us on ‘Overtime’ in a phone interview to discuss that championship game and that great Byron team. Click on the media player for that interview or continue reading.
[INTERVIEW WITH SEAN CONSIDINE]
(SCOTT) Sean, the offensive numbers you guys put up and the offensive talent you had that year was just amazing. A lot of you guys played youth football together growing up. When did you know that this was no ordinary group or class of football players?
(CONSIDINE) “When we were little kids playing for Blackhawk Junior Tackle, Oregon, Stillman, Byron were all together on that same team and so we did fairly well but I tell you what we didn’t necessarily blow anybody out by any means. We were probably like a .500 team but the group below us, the lightweights they were called spearheaded by coach Boyer. He played quarterback. He played with those little guys and they did very well, so we knew we had some football talent in the area, not only at Byron but also Stillman Valley and Oregon, so we were a looking forward to getting to high school and seeing how it turned out.
(SCOTT) You guys so thoroughly dominated St. Joseph-Ogden. Could you see it in their eyes and their body language that they knew they were overmatched?
(CONSIDINE) “I remembering noticing just how frustrated they felt or seemed during the game. We actually kind of made a couple mistakes early and it kept them in the game for the first two series. They were a very good football team that had pretty much dominated their season up to that point. They had a lot of guys that played only on offense and they had a whole separate group of guys on defense and I think they thought they would wear us out as that game went on. But just kine of like we had done throughout the whole playoffs you just overwhelmed teams so quickly. It’s not like a 14-7 game into the third and fourth quarter, I mean, it’s 45-0 at halftime, and it’s just pretty much over. That was just another game where it snowballed on them so quickly. I just remember, I could just tell how frustrated they were with how quickly it went down hill for them.”
(SCOTT) You guys not only rushed for 492 yards that game and dominated offensively….you dominated defensively. St, Joseph-Ogden had a running back Brian Royse who came into that game with almost 1800 yards rushing. You made him a non-factor. What made Byron’s defense so effective?
(CONSIDINE) “We were well coached. Obviously coach Stine and Brad Miller and Ben Dalton they had been coaching at the high school level since the 1980s and doing it together and I think that we were just very fortunate to come through with a very talented football team at Byron that year but also with an extemely experienced coaching staff
(SCOTT) You put up some great numbers that day with 189 yards rushing, and Mark Cotter had four touchdowns and he made big plays on defense. I think Cotter gets overshadowed a little bit by you because of your college and NFL accomplishments and by Jeff Boyer because he was the quarterback and he’s now the head coach at Byron. But tell me about Cotter…the impact player he was?
(CONSIDINE) “Oh he meant a ton. If you ever talk to any of our former teammates or friends that played on that team Mark was definitely not overlooked by us. Our junior year we elected him as the team MVP. He was just such a fierce competitor whether it was at fullback or middle linebacker…just an incredible high school football player, not only his talent but also his competitive drive.”
(SCOTT) Coach Stine had coached a lot of great Byron football teams up to that point but he had never won a championship until that year. How happy were you for him and did you guys know it was his birthday, and did he ever forgive you for dousing him with the Gatorade bucket at the end of that game?
(CONSIDINE) “Yea, yea we knew it was coach Stine’s birthday. That made it extra special. It didn’t put any pressure on us as players, but it was a real shame that coach Stine at that point in his career had not already won a state championship from the teams that he had coached in the early ’90s and the mid-’90s were good enough to win state titles, but they just had some heartbreaking losses to some great teams. Yea coach Stine, just a tremendous leader. We were very happy to get him that state title.”