Byron football prepped for semi-final rematch against IC Catholic

Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 11:07 PM CST
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BYRON, Ill. (WIFR) - The Byron Tigers are no strangers to making deep runs in the IHSA playoffs.

They’ve been to the Class 3A title game each of the last three seasons and are the defending state champions. The Tigers look to make it four straight trips but they will face a familiar foe in IC Catholic to make that happen.

A 15-14 victory over the Knights sent the Tigers to the state championship in 2021. Saturday will be a semi-finals rematch between the two schools and the seniors on Byron’s team know what’s at stake.

“What happened last year I’m sure they’re not happy with it but we are going to have to play our best game to come out on top,” says Senior QB Braden Smith.

Smith has been to the title game with the Tigers twice in three seasons (2019, 2021). There was no season in 2020 because of the pandemic. He says the seniors have always left a strong legacy on the program and this year’s class is no different.

“I think that we got good leadership and I think these guys are looking up to us and understand how to play this game and what to do and I think overall it’s great leadership.”

James Cone is one of those leaders on the defensive side. He says the connection he has with his teammates is like having a brotherhood.

“It’s been a crazy ride. Just super fun to be with my teammates and go on this crazy journey,” says Cone. “We just try to encourage them every day and keep them working hard so that we do our job, they do their job and get the job done.”

“That’s an awesome feeling I’m just so proud of his kids and how far they have come since the start of the season they have worked hard and won some big games on the stretch here,” says Head Coach Jeff Boyer.

Coach Boyer says it’s not easy making it this far in the playoffs. Each player has put in hard work throughout the season and hopes to see their effort pay off Saturday against the Knights.

“It’s a huge game you win this one you get to play the state title you know they’re going be up for it we are going be up for it.”

“We’re just so pumped to be here and chance to go to state again, but one game at a time we have to take care of IC first before we go on,” says Cone.

The tigers head into Saturday’s re-match as the No. 6 seed. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. in Elmhurst. The winner of this game will face the winner of Unity and Williamsville in the title game. Byron beat Unity last season to win the state championship.