FFE Week 12 Player of the Week: Israel Hairston, William Byrd

Published: Nov. 10, 2023 at 11:49 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - William Byrd has put together one of the best seasons in recent memory, with a 9-1 record this season and capturing the Blue Ridge district title.

One of the biggest contributors to the Terriers’ success has come at the hands of quarterback Israel Hairston, our Friday Football Extra player of the week.

It was an exciting victory for William Byrd last Friday. The Terriers are district champions after defeating Blue Ridge rival Northside 35-22.

Terriers quarterback Israel Hairston scored three rushing touchdowns against the Vikings and finished with 120 yards on five carries. Hairston said he credits his success on the field to his team.

“Obviously I can’t have touchdowns without my O-line and also my receivers blocking on the perimeter. So, you know, I contribute that to team. My success comes from their success, but they don’t get the glorified for it. So I got to give them a shout out for that,” explained Hairston.

The Terriers have had a long journey getting to this point. Last season, William Byrd finished the season with a record of 3-8, and in 2021 a record of 0-9.

“They understand what it’s like to be humble and success because you know, the previous two years we didn’t have a lot of success on the field. They stay true to who they are. They believed in the football program and in tough times didn’t run and I think that’s important nowadays. I think there’s a lot of aspects of life where when things get tough, people leave. Israel and his teammates have done a fantastic job of being true to William Byrd High School, being true to each other, trust in each other. And I’m so happy and I know our coaches are so happy to see them have that reward this year. So, it’s been a special season,” said coach Brad Lutz

“We’re experienced now, and you know, we’ve got those games under our belt, we’ve got those years under our belt and now we know what it takes to win and that’s what we’re doing right now,” said Hairston.

‘We’ has always been in Hairston’s vocabulary. Lutz says that Hairston is a selfless player on and off the field.

“What I think I like most about Izzy at this point is that he’s such an unselfish player. I mean when the team needs him, he steps up and does a lot of good things for us. But he also loves seeing his teammates succeed and I think that’s one of the things that makes him such a special player and a special teammate,” Lutz added.

Hairston found his love for football through his family. In fact, he said he used to watch his cousins play the sport in Martinsville.

“That was key for me to get into the game and you know seeing my cousin’s do it, seeing my brother do it, it made me want to do it too,” said Hairston

His inspiration on the field- former Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders.

“My dad used to show me clips of Barry Sanders when I was little and I kind of wanted to be like that running the ball. So yeah, I don’t know. It seemed like he’d never got tackled. So that’s what I kind of wanted to be like,” Hairston emphasized.

And like Sanders and the Lions, Hairston’s leadership has helped the Terriers get to where they are this year.

“Izzy attacks football the same way he does everything else: just in a quiet leadership. He understands what’s asked of him. He understands what it means to make the people around him better. And as a result, he’s had a really successful high school career not only in the football field, but on the basketball court in the baseball field,” stated Lutz.

Entering postseason play, Hairston said the mindset for the rest of this year is keeping a next-play mentality.

“It’s exciting to keep our identity the same thing that we do the whole season, working hard. See, that mentality and you know, staying to ourselves and.... lifting each other up when things go wrong,” added Hairston.