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By Brennan Riker
Special to The Post Dispatch
In Week 7, the Southland Eagles will head to Jayton to take on the Jayton Jaybirds in the battle of the birds. Last season, the Eagles had to cut their season short due to injuries that prevented Southland from fielding a team. With a team made up of less than six players, Southland forfeited every district game.
The Jaybirds were crowned undefeated District 7 champions last season, getting past the likes of the district favorite Motley County, who had just come off of a State Championship run in 2019. Last season, the Jaybirds went 11-2, making it to the Area round. Jayton saw their season end after running into the brick wall that is Balmorhea, who would win the 1A Division 2 State Championship. Jayton’s closest district contest last season was against Motley County, where the Jaybirds shocked the Matadors 67-50 in the final district game of the season where the winner would take home the district title.
This season, Jayton will return a whopping 12 lettermen, but they only return two offensive starters and one defensive starter. Despite these numbers, Jayton has received a lot of preseason attention, as the Jaybirds enter the season ranked 9th in the classification. Jayton garnered more preseason attention with defensive lineman Kaden Valerio being named the Preseason Defensive MVP by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.
“(Head) Coach (Josh) Stanaland does such a good job with those guys,” Southland Head Coach Dusty Grantham said. “We know they will be fundamentally sound and will be very good at what they do. We are excited to get to play a team like that and see what we can do.”
“This will be the first district game for all of our freshmen and sophomores, so it will be a cool experience for them. We hope to get some success in that game and execute our gameplan.”
The Jaybirds and Eagles will play on October 8th with kickoff at 7:30 pm at Jaybird Stadium.