Byron at Mayo
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Records: No. 6-ranked Mayo 6-1 Big Southeast, 6-1 overall; Byron 2-5, 2-5.
Last meeting: Mayo defeated Byron 17-13 last season.
Last game: Byron beat Albert Lea 55-6, Mayo beat Austin 42-20.
Byron notes: The Bears started the season 0-5 but were right there in close losses to unbeaten Stewartville (28-20) and always tough Winona (23-16). Byron has now won two in a row, outscoring Red Wing and Albert Lea 105-20. Against the Tigers, the Bears scored 34 points in the second quarter, thanks to a rushing attack that saw running backs Jake Thompson (eight carries, 99 yards, three touchdowns) and Adam Glynn (8-93 and two TDs) both average over 10 yards a carry. Quarterback Kale Robinson chipped in two rushing touchdowns, carrying six times for 45 yards. He also completed 3 of 5 passes for 67 yards and a touchdown, a 20-yard pass to James Durst in the second quarter. It will be the rushing attack that could cause the Spartans some problems.
Mayo notes: The Spartans won their second in a row by knocking off Austin but it wasn't in as dominant fashion as one would expect. Thanks, in part, to what coach Donny Holcomb called "too many discipline mistakes" from his defense as the winless Packers outgained Mayo 400-387 and held a 216 to 153 advantage on the ground. Austin running back Joseph Walker ran for 182 yards on 28 carries to go along with a 14-yard touchdown run that made it 28-20 in the third quarter. But the Packers couldn't slow down running back Noah Smith, who continued his stellar season by scoring five of the six Mayo TDs. He rushed for 129 yards with three touchdowns on just 13 carries. His final rushing score made it 35-20 late in the third quarter, before he recorded a 32-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Bennett Ellsworth to thoroughly put the game away. Smith also had a 97-yard kickoff return in the first quarter. "He's doing it everywhere," Holcomb said of Smith. "Defense, returns, on offense, he's just done a great job for us all year. We just have to keep putting him in good positions and use that speed and I'm pretty confident, he's going to keep doing it."
Byron coach Ben Halder says: "Anytime you have momentum on your side, it feels great, regardless of who you play against. People say oh Red Wing and Albert Lea, yeah they are struggling a little bit but still they're decent high school football teams. It's not like you're playing anybody's JV, you have to play well to beat teams like that. But yeah we are hitting our stride a little bit after some tough losses. ... (Mayo) has speed everywhere. I coach track too and I watched all those guys this spring and all those guys can motor. Anytime you have a state qualifier like Smith and you line him up at tailback, I mean you're nervous every time he touches the ball because he's one missed tackle away from taking it to the house and the Holcomb boys, I mean they are just loaded. They're 6-1 and they're going to be No. 1 in that section. They have a real shot to do some good things in the postseason. ... Our kids will show up on Wednesday night and give their best effort, I can promise you that."
Mayo coach Donny Holcomb says: "I'm interested to see how the kids respond. This is a great week to find it out, with it being a short week, they really have to pay attention to detail and Byron is a team with what they do on offense. It will be a great a chance for the kids to redeem themselves. ... They run the zone read so you have to be discipline on the backside because the quarterback will keep it. They have a nice running back that cuts it back, they do a lot of different formations that we have to make sure we're lined up correctly so we don't have any missed gaps or coverage responsibilities. The quarterback is good, we talked about how he's probably the second best quarterback we'll see all season. They're a good team that just has a poor record."
— Alex VandenHouten • Post Bulletin