YORKTOWN — “Friday Night Lights” is a series looking in on area high school football programs ahead of the 2023 season.
The Tabb High School Tigers are all-in for the 2023 season. The team has been busy both on and off the field, aiming for an explosive season.
John Byron, Tigers football head coach, is ready to kick off his first season at Tabb. Coming from the successful Lafayette Rams football program in Williamsburg, Byron is excited to bring out the best in the Tigers.
“I’ve been an assistant for the last 12 years and I felt like it was a great opportunity to be a part of the Tabb community. They have a great alumni base, a great booster program, a strong military presence with the families. I was excited for the opportunity to help build on some of the winning culture that Tabb had in the ’80s and ’90s,” Byron said.
Byron is the sixth head coach in Tabb High School football history.
The Tabb Tigers ended the 2022 season with a 3-7 record.
“We lost multiple games by a touchdown or two. We were in a lot of the football games. We had a group of juniors who are now seniors that have been working extremely hard in the off-season and are excited about the opportunity to improve on the record from last year. The kids feel like they were a lot better than what their final record indicated,” Byron said.
The Tigers return 11 starters for the 2023 season. On offense, returnees include quarterback Cole Sigler, offensive lineman Diego Marin, running back Cam Dixon, offensive lineman Jordan Griffin, offensive lineman Colton Carrico, tight end Dewayne Fair, running back Lance Koontz, and offensive lineman Cam Peregoy.
Returnees on defense include defensive linemen Marin, Griffin and Jaylen Matthewson, linebackers Dixon, Dre Lewis, and Fair, and defensive back Koontz.
Punter Jamari Jackson returns on special teams.
As the 2023 season gears up to kick off in late August, Byron’s hope is that the Tigers will be competitive, but through the eyes of taking it one game at a time.
“Our goal is to be 1-0 every week. I know its cliche and a lot of coaches all say that same thing but rather than looking ahead and saying ‘I hope we win six games’ or ‘I hope we win eight games’, the most simplest way to put it is our focus is one game at a time. We want to be 1-0 going into the next week as we focus on the next game,” Byron said.
Byron also hopes that the team will be able to make a run in postseason play.
“Everybody’s goal should be to have an opportunity to be in a playoff. We really want the opportunity to fight to make a run for a state championship,” Byron said.
A special game
During the 2023 season, each game is important to Byron and the Tabb coaching staff, but one game, in particular, will hold special meaning.
Both head coaches came together to dedicate the week three matchup against York High School on Sept. 15 as a Military Appreciation Game.
“I want our young people to understand that we do not take our freedoms for granted and to really appreciate what these men and women have done to allow us to have those freedoms,” Byron said.
Set four days after the 9/11 anniversary, York and Tabb will honor military members in the community with a pre-game ceremony, will have two flags that were flown at Ground Zero, and each military branch’s flag will be on display.
“That game brings a little bit of different meaning. We’re working hard to make it a special night for our military in this area. We want to honor the people who represent this country and what they represent to not only our area but to our country as well,” Byron said.
While wins and losses are important to Byron, it’s also about developing young men into men of character for the rest of their life.
“When players understand that they are working towards something that is greater than themselves, when they are doing something for each other and their team, there is such a sense of purpose that comes from doing that. For us, our mantra has been all about the team being first. I tell them all the time that nothing comes easy and sacrifices have to be made, but when you sacrifice together, in the weight room or out on the practice field, that’s where true togetherness comes from,” Byron said.
As the team looks for inspiration during the season, they often turn to the quote, “no excuses, just results”.
“I started talking with the team very early on when I got here that everybody has their excuses for why they can’t do something. At the end of the day, we’re not looking to hear your excuses. We want to hear how you are going to accomplish the goal or mission of what we want to do as a football team. We all have excuses but at the end of the day, those excuses do not bring you any closer to success,” Byron said.
Tabb’s away opponents this season include Heritage, Jamestown, New Kent, Lafayette, Warhill, and Smithfield high schools. Tabb’s home opponents this season include York, Poqouson, Bruton, and Grafton high schools.
Game one of the 2023 football season for Tabb High School will kick off on the road against Heritage High School on Aug. 26 at 3 p.m.