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Big road comeback earns 2 Hornets Player of Week honors

The win by Loyd Star Friday night at Ethel is the kind that Hornet players and coaches won’t soon be forgetting.

The Hornets were over two hours from the house in Attala County facing a team coached by former Loyd Star assistant coach Adam Smith.

They were down big at halftime — trailing 21-6 at the break and 28-12 in the second half.

Coach Brian Ford and his staff let the team know the game was far from over at halftime.

“We told them to forget the score,” said Ford. “They needed to play every play like it was their last and if they did that then we’d have a chance at the end.”

With under two minutes remaining the Hornets got the go-ahead touchdown when sophomore quarterback Julius Smith hit freshman receiver Austin Henderson on a 67-yard touchdown pass.

The stirring second half effort was good enough to earn Loyd Star the win as they’ve also swept The Daily Leader Player of the Week honors.

 

Birch is unquestioned leader of the LS offense

From the time he was a freshman suiting up for Loyd Star football, senior running back Eric Birch is always a player that catches your eye.

When he’s playing defensive back or linebacker, he runs the ball down and tries to run through the man with the rock.

As a running back he hits the hole with intent and purpose and never shies away from contact.

He also sweats a lot, drenched from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet when he gets the rare occasion to get off the field.

When he was younger Birch would miss snaps with cramps as the coaches and trainers tried to keep him hydrated and in the game.

Last season it wasn’t a lack of potassium that kept Birch out of action, it was a leg injury that robbed him of most of his junior year.

Birch is a football player who also plays soccer, but even when he does that, he looks just like what he is — a football player trying to play soccer.

Not being on the field last season during important games was just as hurtful as the pain he experienced in his ankle.

Friday Birch gutted out 98 tough yards and one score on 16 carries against Ethel. For his efforts Birch has been named The Daily Leader Offensive Player of the Week.

Birch averaged 6.1 yards a carry as Loyd Star tried to stay ahead of the chains in the second half. The Hornet offense also got a solid night of passing from Smith who went 5-of-9 for 116 yards and two scores.

Younger skill players like Smith, junior Versie Wilson and freshman James Goodwin can look at Birch and see a teammate worth emulating.

“Our players trust Eric,” said Ford. “When Eric is going, we are going. He set the tone for us early in the second half and led us to victory.”

The Hornets are 2-1 with wins over 1A Ethel and Salem. Friday they’ll travel to Smith County to face Mize.

The Bulldogs are 1-0 after beating St. Andrew’s 28-21 last week. Mize lost its first two games of the season to COVID-19 related cancelations.

 

Slimmed down Brothern making big plays for Hornet D

Sophomore lineman Lezeric “Sway” Brothern has always been easy to spot at Loyd Star sporting events since he was a smaller kid — he’s never been little, just smaller.

Brothern has always been the big fella of his class — standing a head taller than most of his classmates — as he’s played basketball and football for the Hornets through junior high into high school.

Ahead of his sophomore season Brothern slimmed up and looks to be in his best shape yet at 6-foot-3, 270-pounds.

Asked how he dropped close to 30 pounds, he gives credit to drinking more water than carbonated beverages and “not eating all the time.”

Friday night again Ethel Brothern ate up the Tiger ball carriers as he notched nine tackles as a defensive end. For his play he has been named The Daily Leader Defensive Player of the Week.

Two of those nine tackles were for a loss and Brothern had them on consecutive plays, which gave the Hornet defense a needed shot of energy.

“Sway had back to back tackles for a loss and that really flipped the momentum in our direction,” said Ford.

As Ethel tried to keep the ball and the clock moving in the second half, they were forced to run away from Brothern and the penetration he was providing on the end.

Last season as a freshman Brothern was fifth on the team with 35 tackles while also playing guard on the offensive line.

Brothern and Loyd Star open Region 7-2A play on Oct. 2 at Enterprise.