Canyon High's raw and runt-filled offensive line, a purported defect in the Cowboy victory machine that has rung up 38 straight, has apparently been boosted in a big way this season. Matt Byer, a 6-2, 247-pound senior transfer from Akron, Ohio, is the new hope.
Hart High's injury plagued corps of receivers, the purported blemish in a solid passing game, has been equally blessed. Bryan Milner, a senior, and one of the team's best wide receivers, apparently will not miss Friday night's big game against Canyon as was feared. An injury originally diagnosed as a severely bruised ankle, has healed in miraculous fashion. During a Tuesday practice, he was on crutches. Friday night, at College of the Canyons, he'll be running fly patterns.
"Bryan went to one doctor who said he shouldn't practice for two weeks," Hart Coach Rick Scott said Wednesday. "He missed five days, then went to another doctor who said he could play if he was able to endure some pain."
Canyon's Byer is someone Scott believes is capable of dishing out a fair share of pain. That is, if what he hears is true.
Said Scott: "What about Canyon's transfer defensive tackle? I hear he's something like 6-6, 260."
Canyon Coach Harry Welch set the record straight.
"He's 7-3 3/4, 299 pounds and transferred from the NFL," Welch said of Byers.
"OK, I'll be serious," Welch said. "He'll start at offensive tackle and play some defense. But he's never seen the Pacific Ocean and doesn't know his way to the English building."
As long as he knows his way to Hart quarterback Jim Bonds on Friday, the ocean can wait.
Hart, which has lost the last three meetings between the teams, has an edge over Canyon at offensive line this time. The addition of Byers and a separated shoulder suffered by Hart's starting tackle Tim Gorman on Tuesday have reduced the advantage, however. Gorman, a 6-4, 248-pound junior, will be replaced by senior Steve Barnett (6-1, 230).
"Tim is going to see a doctor and we will take it from there," Scott said. "Steve Barnett is a more-than-adequate replacement."
In another change, Canyon lost junior lineman Willie Starks, the top reserve on offense and defense, on Wednesday because his family moved out of the attendance district.
Milner won't start, according to Scott, but will play extensively. Junior Joe Deschryver, who did not play football last season, will start in his place. Hart's best overall receiver, tight end David Lee, suffered a broken arm two weeks ago and will be replaced by junior Frank Williams (5-9, 165).
"As many as three tight ends will be playing," Scott said. "One guy is a bigger target. One is a better blocker. One knows the plays better. We'll bring in plays with them so I can tell them what to do."
"We had to completly take the tight end out of the game plan when David went down. He had a special knack for getting open. Lots of kids stand and watch when they are the secondary receiver."