Carroll High School has turned to one of its own to elevate its football program: Cody Byrd.
A Patriots assistant coach the past two seasons, Byrd recently was named to succeed Ben Rulli as head coach. Rulli resigned last month after a five-season run as head coach.
“We matured a little bit last (season) and the culture settled in,” Byrd said. “We were in a good position in the (Greater Catholic League Co-Ed North) and I’m extremely excited to continue here.”
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On Tuesday, Carroll administrators participated in a ceremonial ground-breaking to kick off a fund-raising campaign that will overhaul its outdoor athletic facilities and provide other school improvements. Among the planned upgrades is the instillation of a $2.1 million artificial turf field and four-lane track in its stadium.
Coming off a 1-9 season, Carroll rebounded by going 6-4 last fall, its first winning team since the 2010 Patriots were 7-3. A 4-0 season start appeared to put Carroll in playoff contention, then the GCL schedule kicked in.
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All four of Carroll’s losses were to GCL Co-Ed teams, including a sweep by North rivals Alter, Chaminade Julienne and Fenwick, and Badin. All four of those teams advanced to the playoffs and Alter was the Division III state runner-up.
“The level of football that’s played in the GCL Co-Ed North is unbelievable,” Byrd said. “It’s brutal finishing where we finished last year, but we absolutely think we can hang with these teams. It’s exciting to get a chance and take a shot at the big dawg every year. We’re not running from anybody.”
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An Eaton grad, Byrd served two combat tours in Afghanistan as a U.S. Army staff sergeant. He coached Patriots receivers last season and said most of the coaching staff will return. This is Byrd’s first school year as a full-time teacher at Carroll. Rulli will return to Proctor Academy (N.H.) in a senior administrative position and head football coach.
“Cody’s military and coaching background have proven him to be a leader of young men,” Carroll athletic director Scott Molfenter said. “We look forward to seeing the positive energy he will bring as the head coach of the Carroll Patriots.”
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Carroll’s fund-raising campaign will be used to modernize the Patriots’ stadium, renovate five science labs and build two more, create an endowment fund and provide other school upgrades. The new artificial playing surface will be the first stadium upgrade since the press box was built in 1983.
Eventually, Carroll is planning on replacing stadium bleachers and the press box, adding a second artificial turf field and building a field house located between the school and stadium.
“The culture of Carroll is partially dependent on the success of our athletics and extra-curriculars in general,” Byrd said. “Everybody benefits from a winning season, regardless of the sport. Last year when we went 6-4, that winning culture started coming back. You could feel it in the stands. Nobody wants it more than the team does and we’re in a position to go get it.”
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CARROLL FOOTBALL COACHES
Cody Byrd: 2019
Ben Rulli: 2014-18
Robert Levy: 2011-13
Steven Bartlett: 1994-2010
Mark Ewald: 1992-93
Donald Green: 1990-91
James Spoerl: 1966-89
Bernard Otten: 1961-65