AMERICAN CANYON — Eddie Byrdsong loves football.
Byrdsong, a 5-foot-11, 207-pound senior, loves putting in all the work that goes into the game and carrying out the position-specific assignments as a two-way starter for American Canyon High School.
He dedicates himself to the weight room year-round and stays sharp with all the time he puts into practices during the spring and summer months.
“I love it,” Byrdsong said Tuesday at Wolf Den Stadium. “At the end of the day, I don’t do it for myself. I do it for everyone else around me. I want to do my job the best that I can. I just hope to be overall successful.”
Byrdsong, a running back/outside linebacker, is coming off a very productive junior season, in which he ran for 679 yards and scored eight touchdowns in eight games. He averaged 5.7 yards per carry.
He scored two touchdowns in a CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoff loss to Manteca. He ran for two touchdowns in a playoff win over River Valley-Yuba City.
The Wolves went 7-4 overall last year and won the Solano County Athletic Conference title with a 4-0 mark. They beat River Valley, 17-10, and lost to eventual section champion Manteca, 62-32, in the playoffs.
Byrdsong was honored for his play.
He was a finalist for Newcomer of the Year on the All-Napa County team. He was named to the Vallejo Times-Herald’s All-Area team as an all-purpose player. He received a team award, Strength of Pack, for his work on the weight room.
American Canyon is leaving the Solano County Athletic Conference, where it has been an original member since 2011. It is now in a new league, the Vine Valley Athletic League, a CIF North Coast Section league.
“I think his presence on the team is definitely a positive,” said John Montante, American Canyon’s first-year head coach. “He’s one of the cornerstones of the team that we’re building on.
“He’s a good kid. I think he’s a very thoughtful kid, and he says a lot of the right things. He works pretty hard and he’s a leader by example.”
Byrdsong has also received preseason recognition. He was named second-team as a running back on the CalHiSports.com Preseason Redwood Empire Team.
“Eddie’s athletic,” said Montante. “Eddie can be a really good runner. He’s got a good skill set. He’s got good vision.
“When you run option offense as similar to ours, you always have that dive component. He’s a good piece to have running that dive component because it really sets up the rest of the offense.”
Byrdsong ran for 46 yards on 11 carries in American Canyon’s 36-21 loss to Deer Valley-Antioch to open the 2018 season last week. The Wolves were down 27-0, but scored three touchdowns in the second half of the nonleague game. American Canyon suffered four turnovers in the game.
“It was kind of like we had a cold start,” said Byrdsong, 17. “We started rough. Our team started jelling together, but it was just a little too late.
“I was excited about what we started doing toward the end of the game. I felt like I had some good runs where I kept some drives alive, and I followed a lot of my blocks well, and my line did a great job.
“I had a rough time on defense, though, because it was my first time being out there.”
It’s Byrdsong’s first time starting on defense.
“I need to stop thinking so much about what I’m doing and more or less just play,” he said.
He attended Vintage High as a freshman and sophomore. He transferred to American Canyon for his junior year.
Byrdsong feels he has what it takes to start and finish a game, packaging the strength, speed, power and experience to be a featured back in the Wolves’ offense.
“I have a lot of blocking assignments but I also carry the ball,” he said. “Mostly it comes down to a lot of durability and how much I can take and how long I can keep going, and just being able to dig deep whenever my team needs me. I do what my team needs me to do.
“I’m doing it for my team. I want to help them win as many ways as possible.”
Byrdsong’s great uncle, Larry Ferguson, was named as a first-team All-American for the University of Iowa in 1960 as a halfback. Ferguson played one season (1963) for the Detroit Lions and played for two teams, the Edmonton Eskimos (1964-65) and Toronto Argonauts (1965-67), in the Canadian Football League.
Ferguson died in 2015.
“My ambitions are beyond high school. I want to go to college and play ball there afterward,” said Byrdsong.