Menard's Brayden Byers emerging as Eagles' leader with all-around game
Brayden Byers can do almost anything for Menard’s football team, regardless of the task.
Gifted with a 40-yard dash time of 4.56 seconds, Byers is a matchup nightmare wherever he is on the field, which allows him to help the Eagles out in more ways than one.
Last season, Byers accounted for 546 yards and eight touchdowns during Menard’s six regular season games last year — lining up at wildcat quarterback, running back, receiver, defensive back and return specialist.
“I’ve always used track to help benefit me in football, so having it carry over is a really big thing for me,” Byers said.
Byers qualified for the LHSAA state track meet in the pole vault and the 300-meter hurdles last spring, so it is not a surprise that he brings that level of athleticism to the football field.
His character also trickles down to the rest of his Eagle teammates. Byers describes himself as a leader by example, while also being a student of the game.
“Brayden is a loyal, hard-working young man that works just not for himself, but for his teammates because he wants to be successful in everything that he does,” Menard coach Justin Charles said.
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Byers was already slotted for a prominent role on offense, defense and special teams last season, when an injury to former quarterback Chris Canerday gave him the opportunity to start the first two games at quarterback against Homer and Lakeview.
The Eagles won both in dominant fashion as Byers ran for three touchdowns and passed for 45 yards to keep the defense honest.
“Just to see the joy on his face, because he knew he helped lead his team to victory from a position that he hadn’t played all summer and fall camp,” Charles said. “It was just a good moment for him.”
Another good moment came in the final week of the season, as Menard traveled to Avoyelles fresh off a two-week COVID-19 shutdown and a three-game losing streak prior.
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Byers led the Eagles from an 8-0 first-quarter deficit with a rushing and receiving touchdown each to help them pick up a 19-8 win and to gain some momentum going into the playoffs.
“What he brings overall is the mentality of fight, finish and be the best that you can be at everything that you can do,” Charles said. “That’s what we ask from our players all the time.”
Byers worked on his speed this offseason, so he can continue to be at his best to help Menard improve from 2020’s 3-4 record.
“Obviously, you’re looking forward to your senior year as early as junior high,” Byers said. “I want to go out and lead the team as best as I can, so we can get as many wins as we can so we can make the playoffs and go from there.”d