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Byrd ready to bounce back from rough '16 campaign
August 27, 2017, 2:34 pm

By Roy Lang, III, Shreveport Times

The goal is simple, and a bit unusual for the Byrd Yellow Jackets.

“Have a better season than last season,” tight end Cole Robbins said.

“Get more dubs,” free safety Zack Lewis said.

Byrd started the 2016 season 0-5 for the first time in 31 years and collected just four victories overall. After losing a gaggle of seniors from the 2015 squad, head coach Mike Suggs employed many underclassmen. Then, a rash of injuries further tested the Yellow Jackets’ depth.

Byrd did win four of its final six contests, and was game in a first-round playoff loss (27-15) to St. Augustine. Suggs, the winningest coach in program history (141-73) hopes playing time garnered during last-year’s trying campaign will pay dividends this time around.

“It was tough going last year,” Suggs said. “Hopefully that experience they gained will transfer into a lot better play.”

Lewis praised Suggs for the way he handled the rough times, and is confident Byrd’s late-season momentum can carry into the 2017 season.

“Coach Suggs pushed us through tough times last year and he makes us see it from a different viewpoint,” Lewis said. “Last year will help us win more games. We’re going to play as hard as we can.”

On offense, the Yellow Jackets will again aim to use a stable of backs to fuel the veer.

Seniors Jalin Thomas (5-foot-6, 165 pounds) and Sam Miletello (5-8, 144), both scheduled to be starters before injuries in 2016, will anchor the backfield. Senior Javien Wilson (5-10, 170), and junior Lawson Jackson (5-8, 130), found unexpected playing time last season and will bolster the run game this time around.

“We have some good backs, if we can keep them healthy,” Suggs said.

One of the biggest questions marks for Byrd comes on the defensive line.

“That was the one position we didn’t have any injuries last year, but they were all seniors,” Suggs said.

However, Lewis is confident in the pain the back end of his unit can deliver should an opponent get through the Yellow Jackets’ first line of defense.

“I love contact; a big hit,” Lewis said. “And (junior defensive back) Chondrick Lofton (5-10, 155) is probably the next hardest hitter on the team.”

Even though this season will complete his second decade as Byrd’s head coach, Suggs says there is no need for a magical plan or formula to keep his job fresh and fun.

Click here to read the rest of The Times article.


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