Byrd Yellow Jackets
2014 results: 12-1 (5-0 in District 1-5A), lost in quarterfinals (West Monroe 19-7)
Head coach: Mike Suggs (127-64 in 17 seasons as head coach, 26th overall season at Byrd)
The buzz: The Jackets may only be returning nine starters from last year’s team that garnered the top seed in Class 5A before falling to West Monroe in the quarters, but do not think this is an inexperienced team. The squad boasts a whopping 30 seniors plus several other players who played key roles in Byrd’s district title.
On offense, he’s the man: Deuce Caston, QB, Sr.
Caston stepped in for the final four games of 2014 after Tyler Howard went down with an injury. The Jackets, which put up 33 points per contest, flourished with Caston running their potent read option offense.
On defense, he’s the man: Trent Jones, DB, Sr.
The Jackets were stingy on defense last season, and Jones was the playmaker of the group. His four interceptions led the team, and he chalked up 53 tackles while becoming a solid leader both on and off the field.
Others to watch: Trey Allen, FB, Sr.; Joey Jernigan, WR, Sr.; Garrett Malmay, OL, Sr.; Steven Grant, DB, Sr.; Cole Albritton, DL, Sr.; Micah Minter, DL, Sr.; Cameron Jones, LB, Sr..
Inside the numbers: 3
The Jackets face a brutal schedule, with only three opponents that failed to make the playoffs last season. Parkway, which had to forfeit five games for using an ineligible player, was one of those three teams.
Don’t miss: Oct. 2 at Parkway
The Jackets handled the Panthers in last season’s contest, and will be in a make-or-break position by the second month on the schedule. This matchup figures to set the tone for the second half.
Three questions for Byrd coach Mike Suggs:
1. You’ve got a pretty stiff non-district schedule on tap with Barbe, Longview and Calvary. What’s the thinking behind that?
A: I like to play good opponents, whether you win or lose the games early. The first couple of games in a season are not necessarily indicative of how a season will end. Just look at Calvary, which lost four or so games a couple years ago and still won the state title.
2. What has to happen for you guys to make another deep playoff run?
A: “We don’t have the depth we’ve had the past two years, so we’ll have to be injury free to run the same schemes we’ve run in the past.”
3.Even though you lost 18 starters, the defensive secondary seems to be a strength of the team. Who are you counting on there?
A: Trent Jones was one of our leading tacklers last season and he plays all over the field. Steven (Gant) and Luther (Dallas) split time at one of our corners last season. They are key because we think we lost another defensive back for the season against Ruston.”