EDMOND — Edmond North's Brock Byford credits his two older brothers for turning him into a nasty middle linebacker.
“They grew up beating on me,” he said. “I always kind of got beat up, but I think it made me tougher in the long run.”
Byford will be counted on to spearhead a Huskies defense this season that loses seven starters. Last year, Edmond North's stingy defense pitched four shutouts in leading the Huskies to a 9-3 record.
The Huskies held opponents to 18 or fewer points in 11 of the 12 games, losing 17-16 to Tulsa Union in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs. Even with the new faces, Byford thinks the Huskie defense can be just as good as last year.
“I think we can,” Byford said. “I think we got a lot of young guys who want to step up. I think we will be just as good or better. I think everybody is a head hunter on our defense.”
Edmond North football coach Jeremy Dombek admits the Huskies lost a lot of great defensive players to graduation, but having Byford back in the middle is a big plus.
“We want to play fast and play physical, and Brock does all those things,” Dombek said. “When he hits you, you know it. He is a punishing player. I just expect a huge year out of him.”
Byford added 10 pounds in the offseason and plans to lead Edmond North by example.
“I feel like I got a step up and be a leader and set the tempo for the defense,” Byford said. “Being an older guy, being a senior, you got to be a leader. I think I had an all-right year last year, but I think I only had about 85 tackles. This year I am looking to get 120, 125.”
Byford certainly doesn't lack for motivation. He was disappointed when Vype Magazine left him off its list of the top 100 high school football players in the state.
“That just brings fuel to the fire,” Byford said. “I am going to come out with a chip on my shoulder and show everybody that I should have made that list.”
He also wants to be the first member of the Byford family to earn a scholarship to play Division I football.
His oldest brother Blake, a former quarterback for Edmond North, was a tight end at Pittsburg State, Kan. His other brother, Colton, is now a defensive end for the University of Central Oklahoma. Both are Division II schools.
“My goal is to go D-1, any school, I don't care,” Byford said.
So far Missouri, Kansas State and Iowa State have expressed interest. Sibling rivalry is still alive and well among the Byford brothers.
“We kind of motivate each other now, but when we were younger it was always who is the toughest,” Byford said. “I would always get beat around. They are going to get their payback. I am getting bigger than them.”