9/23/2013 2:55:00 PM Byron makes big plays in loss
By David Richards
One injury to a starting high school football player is tough for a team to handle, especially for a smaller school.
Since the start of the season, Byron has dealt with eight.
Missing their top two quarterbacks, their top two centers, in addition to several key defensive players, the Bears dropped to 2-2 overall after a 54-12 loss at Stewartville Sept. 20.
Byron now plays a number of sophomores to help fill the voids.
"When you're putting kids in as tenth graders, you're learning on the fly," said Byron head coach John Austinson. "We just have to get better."
The Tigers won, but Byron made them work for it.
With his team trailing 40-0, Kip Knutson returned a kick off 90 yards with 10:28 left in the second quarter for a touchdown, zig zagging through the Tigers defense and sprinting to the right corner of the end zone.
The play put the Bears on the board and the visiting crowd into a frenzy.
Later in the second quarter, Knutson and Dan Fujan teamed up to stop Stewartville on a fourth and six play and to send possession back to Byron.
A little more than two minutes later, Fujan intercepted his fifth pass of the year.
The highlights didn't end there.
Still in the second quarter, Sophomore Michael Bouchie recovered a Stewartville fumble, and sophomore quarterback Ryan Thompson threw his first touchdown pass of his very short varsity career, a 67-yard play to Wyatt Nelson.
"I was a little nervous," Thompson said, of his first varsity start. "But it got better as the game went on."
And for his first touchdown pass?
"It felt awesome," he said. "You can't put it into words."
Thompson completed five of 16 passes for 117 yards and the touchdown, while Nelson led receivers with 78 yards.
Fujan was Byron's leading rusher with 54 yards.
On the defensive side, Jacob Whitney finished with eight tackles and two assists.
Austinson said he doesn't expect to get any players back when his team hosts Rochester Lourdes Friday (Sept. 27), but added that players might slowly come back beginning on Homecoming (Oct. 4) when the Bears host Lake City.