‘Dirty’ Bird manages muck, routs Freeman
Soggy conditions don’t slow Skyhawks, who roll up 395 yards of offense
Another cold, wet Friday night. Another soggy, slippery, messy field.
So what did the L.C. Bird Skyhawks do?
Savor the experience, of course.
“Bird football is nasty, dirty, grimy … just like what we just played in,” quarterback Jaden Payoute said moments after he and his mud-caked but ecstatic teammates dispatched Douglas Freeman 49-14 on Dutchman Field in the Class 5, Region B semifinals.
“Regardless of the weather, field conditions, whatever … we’ll play.”
And play the Skyhawks did, to the tune of 395 yards of offense on 35 snaps; a tenacious defense that limited Freeman to 143 yards in the first half as they built a 35-7 lead; and fierce special teams play that resulted in a blocked punt that set up an early touchdown.
“We had to make sure we had our footing right each time, every play,” Payoute, a 6-3, 195-pound senior, said about the challenges of
competing in the quagmire of muck. “Everything we did … short choppy steps, short choppy steps. Shout out to all my O line too. Good job, boys. They love this type of stuff.”
The Rebels (7-4) took a 7-0 lead on Pat Taylor’s 26-yard run and Adam Notley’s point-after at 6:22 of the first quarter.
The Skyhawks (9-2) responded with a vengeance.
On their first snap, Payoute raced 38 yards around the left side on a quarterback keeper. Four plays later, Tre Mason
(18 carries for 153 yards) scored the first of his two touchdowns, a 4-yard run off the right side.
Bird was on a roll.
At 1:00 of the first quarter, Mason ended a three-play, 66-yard drive with a 52-yard dash around right end.
“I couldn’t do anything without my O line,” said Mason, a 5-8, 175-pound junior. “And I got a pair of screw-in cleats. It felt like I couldn’t slip on the field. It was like the field was dry.”
Up 14-7, the Skyhawks scored two quick touchdowns thanks to opportunities created by their special teams.
Steve Jordan blocked a Freeman punt, and Chris Barfield recovered it at the Rebels 7. Following a sack and a false-start penalty, Payoute completed a 15-yard TD pass to Mykeal Anderson on a fourth-and-goal.
Freeman’s next drive ended with a mishandled snap on a punting situation, Ahmed Couch recovered on the 25, and three plays later freshman running back Ramon Brown (6 carries for 161 yards) scored on a 4-yard run
6:33 from halftime.
“We hustled to the ball,” said Couch, a senior defensive end who recovered another fumble in the third quarter. “Even on a muddy field, we still held our ground.”
Spelling Mason in the third quarter, Brown scored twice on runs of 50 and 58 yards. Marcus Chavez drilled 7 of 7 extra points.
Freeman’s final TD came on a 9-yard run by Pat Taylor at 2:34 of the third period to end a 14play, 59-yard drive.
“I’m proud of our kids and how they played,” Bird coach Troy Taylor said. “They played hard tonight. We always tell the guys, don’t worry about the field conditions. Worry about the things we can control.”
L.C. Bird’s Tre Mason runs for a first-quarter touchdown against Douglas Freeman. Mason finished with 153 yards rushing on 18 carries and two touchdowns. The Skyhawks led 35-7 at halftime and rolled to a victory against the Rebels in the Class 5, Region B semifinals.