From honoring a former player to fallen soldiers, Byrd football workouts gain deeper meaning online

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VINTON, Va. (WFXR) — The William Byrd football team is getting ready for the fall by doing workouts at home during the pandemic. But the Terriers aren’t waiting to get on the gridiron to compete.

The battle is taking place on social media.

“And I’m excited to announce this challenge with you guys. We’re going to call it the Friday Night Throwdown,” head coach Brad Lutz said in a Twitter video in mid-April.

The fields remain empty but the competition is heating up online. For the last four weeks, Byrd has been locked in a head-to-head challenge with Millbrook High School in Winchester, Va. Lutz and Pioneers head coach Josh Haymore have been longtime friends from their time working together at Broadway High School.

But now that friendship has turned into a quarantine rivalry.

“It just gives them a chance to do something to prepare mentally. That toughness, that accountability to the team. And it gives them an outlet during this time,” Lutz said. “They’re inside all day. They’re having an opportunity to work on their school work but it gives them an outlet too as athletes. They want to have some competitive nature in their day and that gives them an outlet.”

What started as a one-minute pushup challenge became a 60 second plank push-up battle. In their latest challenge, both teams are tasked to do as many burpees as possible in 46 seconds, with the specific time limit taking on special meaning for both programs.

“One of the greatest Terrier football players to come from William Byrd high school,” Lutz said to his players in a Twitter video earlier this week. “And that’s Tyler Snow.”

Snow played at James Madison from 2009-2013 and overlapped with Haymore when he served as an assistant coach, providing a unique tie to both schools.

“Tyler was a great defensive end there and had a great career there,” Lutz said. “His best year in tackles was 46 tackles so we’re going to use 46 seconds instead of a minute.”

In another challenge, the team took to the streets to pay a special tribute.

“Run miles for soldiers who were killed in combat,” Lutz commanded his team in the second week of the Friday Night Throwdown. “It’s a special way for our team to get better. And pay tribute to the greatest Americans who lived.”

The Terriers, joined by the school’s faculty, ran a total of 223 miles in the span of a week for fallen soldiers.

Lutz hopes all of the effort from the last month can maintain his team’s competitive edge with football season approaching, though its future is still murky due to the pandemic.

“Just trying to find the most creative ways, because at this point pushups are pushups,” Lutz said. “We wanted to find more creative ways to get bigger, faster, stronger that was going to rejuvenate them a little bit, build some energy at a time that doesn’t have a lot of energy at home and that was our biggest goal.”

A goal that’s being reached one tweet at a time.

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