Whitehall-Yearling High School senior quarterback Raymell Byrd has the football team in position to achieve its goals of winning a league title and making a postseason run.
The Rams enter their home game Friday, Oct. 5, against Liberty Union on a five-game winning streak and tied with London for first in the MSL-Ohio Division at 2-0. They are 5-1 overall and have league games remaining Oct. 12 at Bexley and Oct. 26 at home against London.
Byrd is one of the biggest factors in Whitehall's success. He has rushed for 848 yards and 14 scores on 124 carries and has completed 36 of 88 passes for 679 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions.
"He's been a huge part of our program since I've been here," coach Rod Lightfoot said. "He's a great leader, he's a great kid and he's a role model as far as being a Whitehall Ram."
Along with contending for a league title, Byrd has the Rams in position to secure their third consecutive postseason berth after being eliminated in the first round each of the past two seasons.
The Rams were projected to be fifth in Division II, Region 7 this week. The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs.
"We're all coming together more and more every game," Byrd said.
Whitehall, which opened with a 19-6 loss to Division I Westerville Central on Aug. 24, won its fifth consecutive game by defeating host Grandview 46-13 on Sept. 28.
Byrd tossed two touchdown passes and rushed for three touchdowns, accounting for all four second-half scores to lead the Rams. He finished with 124 yards rushing on 16 carries and was 5-for-12 passing for 115 yards.
Lightfoot has grown accustomed to those performances.
"When the ball is in Raymell's hands anything can happen," Lightfoot said. "If you have a play that looks like is not going to go anywhere next thing you know he's down the field 10 or 15 yards. He just keeps the drive moving."
Byrd saw some time at the varsity level at quarterback as a freshman, playing behind DeShante Vaughn for most of the season. Byrd also played wide receiver and defensive back.
"That was a good experience," Byrd said. "I understood what I was coming into."
As a sophomore, Byrd was second-team all-league while again seeing time at multiple positions.
After Vaughn graduated, Byrd took over as the starting quarterback last year and responded by being named first-team all-district and all-league and third-team all-state. He rushed for 1,628 yards and 24 touchdowns on 227 carries and completed 70 of 153 passes for 1,131 yards with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions.
This season, in addition to putting up impressive numbers, he has assumed more of a leadership role.
"I'm being more of a leader this year," Byrd said. "I can't say I've played my best because we all can get better in places."
Byrd would like to play in college and expects that process to begin soon. He has had some contact with Bowling Green.
"It would mean the world," he said. "It's a life goal for me to play in college. I've always dreamed of it and I still do to this day."
Boys soccer team seeking league title
The boys soccer team still was in position to win an MSL-Ohio title entering this week.
The Rams, who were 3-3-5 overall before playing Horizon Science on Oct. 2, are 1-0-2 in the league. They close league play Wednesday, Oct. 10, at Bexley.
Columbus Academy was 2-0-1 in the league before playing Grandview on Oct. 3.
Whitehall and Academy played to a scoreless tie Sept. 22.
Girls volleyball team winding down season
The girls volleyball team is 2-13 overall and 1-4 in the MSL-Ohio as it prepares for the Division II district tournament.
The Rams lost to visiting Bexley 25-18, 25-18, 26-24 on Sept. 27 and at Academy 25-19, 25-13, 25-12 on Sept. 26.
Makhia Hinton leads the team in kills (146) and aces (28), while Riley Maxstead leads in assists (111) and Alyson Shoemaker leads in digs (87).
The tournament draw is Sunday, Oct. 7.
Below are the coming schedules for the Whitehall-Yearling boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 6 -- Home vs. Groveport
*Oct. 10 -- At Bexley
*Oct. 4 -- At Columbus Academy
Oct. 6 -- At Westland
Oct. 4, 6 -- Division I sectional at Pickerington Central. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district Oct. 11 and 13 Reynoldsburg.
*Oct. 4 -- At Grandview. The Rams defeated the Bobcats 25-19, 25-19, 25-27, 25-23 on Sept. 6.
Oct. 8 -- At Columbus School for Girls
*Oct. 9 -- Home vs. Worthington Christian. The Rams lost to the Warriors 25-19, 25-23, 25-13 on Sept. 13.