By Chris Johnson


The 2016 Big Northern opener is this Friday night, Sept. 2, and Byron appears ready as they come off a season-opening win over Burlington Central, 20-0.

The mixture of experienced players and new varsity contributors will have its impact on the Byron Tigers this season, as they open a new year in a new conference. This Friday night, the new Big Northern gets its first look at this year’s Tigers, as Byron hosts Rockford Lutheran.

In their win over Burlington Central, Tigers’ running back Justin Martinez carried the load as he racked up 142 yards on 26 carries, averaging nearly five and a half yards per carry.

Nolan Bielskis added 52 yards on nine attempts on the ground.

Bryce Scheffler netted nearly 50 yards on the night as Trevor Koritz moved the ball, averaging just shy of six yards per carry.

The Tigers scored first as Koritz worked through his blockers and ran it in from the Burlington Central ten- yard line. The extra point was good as Byron claimed the 7-0 first quarter advantage.

Burlington Central could manage first downs, but struggled to string enough together as the Byron defense clamped down. The Rockets could not move the ball against Byron in the non-conference opener.

In the second quarter the lead expanded, as Martinez hit pay dirt, Byron scored again, this time with just 14 seconds to go before the halftime break. With the successful extra point, the Tigers held the 14-0 lead.

Into the third the offense continued to churn, as Byron worked itself into scoring position, this time with just over three minutes to go in the period. Michael Criscione crossed the plane and scored at the 2:48 mark in the third. The extra point attempt failed. Byron held the 20-0 lead and would not be threatened again.

Neither team would score in the fourth quarter, as the Tigers held on to move to 1-0 on the season.

This Friday night, the Rockford Lutheran Crusaders pay Byron a visit.

The former conference champion has a few different people carrying the load this season, with the graduation of the State of Illinois’ Rushing Champion, James Robinson, having its effect. In their own season opener Rockford Lutheran found itself having to battle back-and-forth with Genoa-Kingston. In the end, they couldn’t keep pace, as the Cogs came away with the upset, 32-30.

In other Big Northern action, the Stillman Valley Cardinals knocked off the North Boone Vikings in Poplar Grove, 42-37.

Oregon defeated Monmouth-Roseville in a non-conference match, 48-12, to keep pace with Byron and Genoa-Kingston for the top spot in the Big Northern after week one.

In a Big Northern-Kishwaukee Valley crossover clash, Winnebago failed to convert on a two-point play late at home and lost to the Marengo Indians, 29-28.

Stillman Valley hosts Winnebago this Friday night, Sept. 2. North Boone plays at Genoa-Kingston and Oregon hosts Dixon.

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