Jimmy Watson

| Shreveport Times

If the Byrd boys’ soccer team, one of only four regional teams remaining in the postseason, can only win one game, the jackets will apparently make school history.

In 27 years of Byrd football, the Jackets have made the LHSAA Division I semi-finals only four times and lost all three previous trips, according to research by coach Gary McCormick. That means the jackets could put their names in school history by beating the number 1 Catholic Baton Rouge or Dutchtown in the state semi-finals. These two teams should play on Tuesday evening.

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The jackets are loaded with a senior class of eight, including midfielder Jackson Paine. Paine and his compatriots were part of the 2018 semi-final club that failed to take the next step.

“It has always been our dream to get back to that stage,” said Paine. “Only this time we want to go one step further.”

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Byrd will join the Benton Boys in Division II and the Loyola Boys in Division III as boys’ teams from northwest Louisiana competing in the semi-finals. Loyola will represent the region’s girls’ teams in the semi-finals, where Parkview Baptist takes place in the semi-finals on Friday at 4pm. The four survivors hope to advance to Strawberry Stadium in the southeast for the state title games from February 24-27.

Byrd’s boys hope a team of veterans who have been there before will help them move forward.

“This senior class has seen everything from a near-unbeaten season to a first-round playoff loss and that has prepared us mentally to face whatever obstacles stand in our way,” said Paine. “High expectations of this program have made our dreams come true.”

Paine said winning the last home game of his career, beating Denham Springs 3-2 and advancing to the semi-finals are among his favorite purple and gold memories.

“I couldn’t ask for a better group of players and friends to be on this trip with,” he said. “And regardless of how it ends, it’s been a great pleasure to share these four years with you.”

Paine offered an assessment of some of his senior colleagues.

Nicky Sepulvado: “Bring the whole torch.”

Jack Walker: “Is an animal in front of the gate.”

Carson Johnson: “Is the glue that holds everything together.”

Sam Abrego: “Is a leader and a dangerous attacker.”

Dylan Garrett: “Is that energizer bunny who never runs out of gas?”

Jayson Frink: “Is the stone that inspires everyone and is the best captain of all.”

Twitter: @ JimmyWatson6

Remaining NW La. Soccer teams


Division I: Byrd, plays the winner of Catholic-Dutchtown

Division II: Benton, plays E. Jefferson-St. Thomas More winner

Department III: Loyola at Lusher Charter (New Orleans)


In Loyola, Parkview will take place at Messmer Stadium on Friday at 4 p.m.