BYRON, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — The Byron Tigers in recent years have reached a level of play in football that has been almost breath-taking. More thrills are likely in store for their fans this season.
In the last five years Byron has reached the state quarterfinals once, the state semifinals twice and last year the 4A state championship game before losing to Monticello by four points. That’s a game that could have gone either way.
“I did think about it a lot, but now it’s time to get that past us and push it past, and I think the rest of us have,” said senior running back/cornerback Drake Snodgrass. “We’re ready to come back out this year and try to go back again.”
“It just motivates us even more I think,” said senior two-way lineman Tyler Elsbury. “A lot of the kids here this is what we’ve been doing for eight years, so all of the seniors are ready to go.”
Head coach Jeff Boyer’s main message to his guys in camp is simple. “We haven’t won a game yet. I mean, you look back at last season it was a great run. A pretty good finish for us a state runner-up, but that means nothing this year and these kids have to earn everything they’re going to get.”
The Tigers will have plenty of playmakers on offense again. Snodgrass is back after rushing for more than 1500 yards. Also returning is equally explosive Isaac Stickler. He topped 1400 yards rushing last year. Ben Carlson returns at quarterback. The one position that needs a replacement in the backfield is fullback.
“I feel like we’ve got a lot of guys that could take that spot,” said Snodgrass, “But right now Ian Palzkill is looking like a really good contender for that.”
The left side of the offensive line is in great hands with all-conference guard Peyton Lind back and All-State road grader Elsbury returning at his Lijnd’s side at tackle. The future Iowa Hawkeye is striving to get better.
“Personally I just want to be more dominant than I already have been,” says Elsbury. “I know it’s going to be tough, but it’s just how it has to be to get back to where we were.”
To make another deep playoff run the Tigers will have to replace six very good players on defense including an amazing linebacking corps that graduated…Kevin Claunch, Colton Ingram and Zac Alberts.
“You know those kids are irreplaceable but we have kids every year that step up year-in and year-out and end up being players for us,” said Boyer.