By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
After struggling the past couple of years, boy, does it feel good to win a football game.
“Absolutely, I was worried,” Saltillo head coach Pat Byrd said after his team came from 16 points down to defeat host Baldwyn 26-23 on Thursday night for its first win of 2011. “You got so many young kids, even juniors, who are inexperienced.
“You are waiting on somebody to step up and make a play when the money is on the line.”
Last year, in Byrd’s first season at Saltillo, the Tigers went 3-8. Despite beating their rival, the Bearcats, for the third straight year, the Tigers have only won 10 games since 2005, and have had two 0-10 seasons.
Byrd’s squad lost its first two games of 2011, to Itawamba AHS and Mooreville, by a combined nine points.
“We’re just waiting on somebody to take on a little bit of a leadership role,” Byrd said after Thursday’s win, “and I think we saw a little bit of that tonight.
“We had some adversity. … We had several kids get hurt, obviously, and Baldwyn had some, too. So, it’s just a game of attrition, I reckon.”
they needed that
Kossuth is another area team trying to regain its winning ways after making the playoffs last year for the first time since 2007. Despite making the playoffs twice in the past four years, the Aggies’ last winning season – finishing with a record above .500, that is – came five years ago.
So far, they are 3-0 this season and ranked second, behind Aberdeen, out of the Daily Journal’s Class 3A area teams.
The Aggies survived a tough home contest with Hamilton Friday night to tie its best start since 2005.
“We needed a game like this,” coach Brian Kelly said after his team’s 34-20 homecoming win over the Lions. “Hamilton, hats off to them: They stepped up on defense. … But our seniors did play a major role on our team.”
Meanwhile, Lafayette – the Journal’s top-ranked large school and the first MHSAA team to finish a season 16-0 after its Class 4A championship game victory in December – will try to extend its winning streak to 20 games with a win over Evangel Christian Academy on Saturday at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, La.