LB defense throttles Byrd’s ground game

LB coach Jamie Harless talks to the team during a timeout.
Photo by Brian Hoffman

The Lord Botetourt football team took care of a recent nemesis Monday as the Cavaliers used a dominating first half for a Blue Ridge District win over William Byrd.

The Cavs won 34-16 in Daleville in a game that was postponed from Friday due to a wet field.

It was a sweet win for the Cavaliers, who were just 2-10 against Byrd in the past dozen meetings. It was a game LB had circled on the schedule since August.

“This was one we really wanted,” said LB coach Jamie Harless. “We had a lot of injuries when they beat us last year (42-14) and the kids felt like they had a point to prove. We had to chew on that embarrassment for a year.”

Botetourt came out with guns blazing, scoring on three plays on their first possession. LB led 24-0 by the half as Evan Eller scored on runs of 15 and two yards, Hunter Rice had a 16-yard run and Trey Rice kicked a 41-yard field goal just before the half.

The Cavalier defense smothered everything Byrd tried to do in the first half. For the game the Terriers punted eight times, and they’d only punted nine times total prior to Monday’s game in rolling up a 7-1 record.

Botetourt increased the lead to 31-0 in the third quarter on a 48-yard run by Hunter Rice, and trickles of Byrd fans could be seen heading to the cars at that point. However, it wasn’t over quite yet.

On Byrd’s next possession the Terriers drove to the red zone, where quarterback Sam Dantzler was tackled on the half-yard line on fourth down. Botetourt took over, but Eller was tackled in the end zone for a safety and Byrd was on the scoreboard at 31-2.

Botetourt kicked off following the safety, and Aaron Stanley ran the kick back 75 yards for a touchdown and it was 31-9. Then, on Byrd’s next possession, Hunter Meador took a pass from Dantzler 52 yards to the end zone and it was a two-possession game at 31-16, and still in the third quarter.

“They had all the momentum and we were a little concerned,” said Harless. “We missed a couple chances to put it away.”

At that point the LB defense gathered itself and settled in, shutting out the Terriers the rest of the way. Dantzler, who was averaging about 200 rushing yards per game, was held to 99 yards and LB outgained Byrd overall, 348-211. Botetourt more than doubled the Terriers in first downs, 15-7.

“I was pleased with our defense,” said Harless. “They really only had two plays that hurt us, the long run and one pass completion.”

Hunter Rice finished with 213 yards rushing for LB on 24 carries and Eller had 41 yards on eight attempts. LB struggled in the passing game, completing just two of nine attempts. Jake Dewease caught both and had to make a sensational catch to pull in one of them.

“We had missed three or four opportunities where we were wide open for possible touchdown passes that we couldn’t connect,” said Harless.

The game was the last between the two longtime rivals with Jeff Highfill as Byrd coach. He’ll retire after the season after 38 years coaching the Terriers.

“There aren’t many people who have made the contribution to kids that he has,” said Harless. “I have a lot of admiration for coach Highfill.




The Cavaliers will wrap up the regular season with a game in Roanoke against William Fleming this Friday night. If the Cavaliers win they’ll be declared Blue Ridge District champions for the first time since 1984.

LB will be favored for sure. The Cavaliers come in at 7-2 while Fleming is 1-7, having won for the first time last week against winless Staunton River. However, don’t expect Cavalier coach Jamie Harless to look past the Colonels.

“They have some good football players,” he said. “They’re big and they play hard. We won’t be taking them lightly, I can assure you.”

Fleming scored 40 points in last week’s 40-27 win over Staunton River. The Colonels have a first year coach in Jamar Lovelace after going winless last year. LB beat the Colonels 38-7 in 2017.

Botetourt comes in ranked No. 1 in the last Region 3D poll. The new rankings weren’t out at press time but the Cavs didn’t figure to lose any ground after beating 7-2 William Byrd last week. However, this week second ranked Northside plays Byrd, giving the Vikings a chance to pick up some points, while Botetourt will get few rider points with a win over Fleming.

“They could possibly pass us back if we both win,” said Harless. “A lot of it is going to depend on what other people do. They’ll be splitting hairs.”

Whoever finishes on top will be assured of home games throughout the three-week regional tournament. Botetourt and Northside have already met twice, with each winning on their home field, so home advantage for a third meeting would be something of an edge. However, when it comes down to it the Northside and LB fields are both 100 yards long and that’s all that matters.

“We just want to win this week, and whatever happens, happens,” said Harless.

more recommended stories