BYRON, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Time is winding down in the regular season for our high school football teams. That means playoff berths and conference championships are on the line. No two teams know that feeling better than Dixon and Byron. It’s the biggest game of the year in the Big Northern and it’s our “Overtime” Game of the Week.
“Since the beginning of the season, it’s been one marked on the calendar,” said Byron tight end Braylon Kilduff. “We knew it was going to be a big game.”
The final two undefeated teams in the BNC at 7-and-0 are Dixon and Byron, and they are ready to battle for first place in the conference Friday night at Everett Stine Stadium.
“It’s a great test for us before we get to the postseason against a very good football team ranked in 4A,” said Byron head coach Jeff Boyer.
It’s also the biggest test for the Dukes up to this point in the season.
“What a great opportunity,” said Dixon head coach Jared Shaner. “There’s a bunch of other teams that wish they were 7-0 right now and playing for a conference championship in week eight.”
Friday’s game in Byron marks the first time since 2017 that Dixon is in the running for a conference championship. That 2017 season marks the last time this team started the season 7-0.
“This is definitely the biggest game of the year and it’s probably the biggest game of our careers too, up to this point,” said Dixon quarterback Tyler Shaner.
But the Byron Tigers are on a mission, they are going for their third straight Big Northern title after tying with Stillman Valley last year. They’ve won all their games this season by 40 points or more and have outscored their last seven opponents, 445-32.
“You can’t turn the ball over against them,” said coach Shaner. “They average 66 points a game right now I think, you can’t give them extra possessions in a game.”
Coach Shaner also added that in his mind, not every drive has to end in a score, but a quick three-and-out won’t fly against this Byron team.
“They play very physical,” said Tyler Shaner. “They are by far better, faster, stronger than any other team that we’ve played all year.”
So how have the Dukes prepared for the explosiveness that they are about to see on both sides of the ball with this roaring Tigers team?
“They’re going to make plays on you,” said coach Shaner. “They’re a good football team and a good football program.”
“But just to keep fighting, to keep doing those things and ultimately play a complete game and see what happens at the end.”
Now, Dixon has the second highest scoring offense in the conference behind Byron. They’ve been cruising since week two and their close call with Oregon where they won 29-20.
“They’re a very good football team, great defensively, great spread attack,” said coach Boyer. “The [Tyler] Shaner kid at quarterback’s a good player and then, you know, the [Aiden] Wiseman kid at linebacker is a good player as well.”
This is another physical matchup that you can bet is going to be won in the trenches, and Byron wins the size competition on the line.
“I mean, that’s the key,” said coach Shaner. “Your up-front has to play low and physical because they’re big and they get off the ball really, really well.”
And Friday’s elements are not exactly favorable. A lot of rain in the forecast is going to make for some downright tough and muddy football and we would expect nothing less from two teams of this caliber.
“They also haven’t played a high caliber team like Dixon,” said Tyler Shaner. “So, I think it’s gonna be a battle.”
A battle that will help both teams prepare for what they will see in the postseason.
“It’s like a playoff atmosphere here this week,” said coach Boyer. “So, I think it’s a great experience going into the playoffs and the postseason.”
NOTE: For highlights of this game and many more, watch “Overtime” Friday night live at 11 p.m. on FOX 39.