CLARKSBURG, W.Va – With a heartbreaking loss in the final moments against Fairmont Senior ending its 2021 campaign, Robert C. Byrd is fired up to get another crack at the big time in 2022.

The Flying Eagles return plenty of talent and even add athletes in key spots. It’s all come together to make head coach Josh Gorrell a rather happy man through two-and-a-half weeks worth of practice.

“Extremely pleased with how we’ve prepared, practiced and come to work through the scrimmage especially. We’ve got a great group of guys. The camaraderie on the team, how they’ve worked, how they’ve progressed has been tremendous. I couldn’t ask for more right now,” he said.

The word that jumps off the page for Byrd this season is athletic. With tons of speed, length and agility all over the field, there’s a lot to look forward to from the skill positions this season.

“All these kids are athletic. We have speed and we’re athletic realy. Kids can make plays and that’s really it,” tight end Nathan Lhotsky said.

That athleticism looks like it will show up at the running back position in a big way for the Flying Eagles, a promising development following the graduation of Harrison County’s all-time leading rusher Jeremiah King.

In senior Braylon Hilliard and sophomore Latrell Jones, Gorrell believes he has a diverse running attack that will give defenses fits.

“Two different types of runners completely. Latrell’s a north-south, stick his foot and get one cut north-south real quick. Braylon’s very patient, sets the run up real well, reads the box, understands when to cut it, when to stretch it, when to stick it so we’ve got two different types of running backs which suits us great for what we’re doing,” Gorell said.

There’s also a different kind of athleticism that Gorrell is hoping will translate to the gridiron this season at the wide receiver position. Quinton Cooley, Bryce Byrd and Brayden Thomason, all standouts from the RCB basketball team, are in line for reps at receiver after joining the team for the first time this year as seniors.

While that may make you question team chemistry, Thomason says its no different than when they were all growing up together.

“It’s pretty cool trying to learn new sports together and see how everybody fits in but its just like playing backyard football. Nothing changes,” he said.

With a playoff-hardened team once again, Byrd has a few key leaders that will be able to help the new roster additions along. That all starts on the offensive line with Youngstown State commit Wyatt Minor at tackle.

“Well, he sets the tone for everything we do,” Gorrell said, “Not just up front but for the whole team right? When you have accolades like he has and you’re going to do what he’s going to do, everyone looks to you and we’ve talked about that. It’s time to grab the bull by the horns and let’s go.”

Robert C. Byrd kicks off its 2022 season at home against Keyser on August 26.