By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– Regis’ Byron Bishop knew of the Ram program through his father, who was the Gold Beach Defensive Coordinator from 2007 to 2013. During that time, the Regis-Panther dynamic had met three times in the postseason with Gold Beach taking down the Rams each of the times on their way to a State Finals appearance in 2007, 2008 and 2011.
So, when they moved closer to the Salem and Stayton-area, the Rams came to mind with their athletics and the stature of the program.
“My dad was the defensive coordinator coach for Gold Beach from 2007 to 2013 and that program was really good. We had always played Regis in the playoffs and my parents were always impressed with the kids and coaches,” Bishop said. “When we had decided to move to the Salem area, we agreed that we would move to where I could go to Regis.”
Bishop’s freshman year, the Fall of 2017, he was introduced to the high expectations and the environment of what he was walking into. Then-Head Coach Kyle McGrath welcomed the new face in Bishop, but knew he had to earn his spot.
By his sophomore year, he was playing here and there. But by the third-game of the season, he got his opportunity and never looked back.
“In the game with St Mary’s, Kirk(land Scott) went down and I became the starter and have had the QB position ever since. I then also started playing other positions on defense. Such as Free Safety and Defensive Back,” Bishop said. “The rest of the year was tough but it was a great learning experience for me.”
Playing those extra positions that year helped him when he went back to quarterback. Thinking where the defender may be with routes, plays and how he would react with decisions and ball placement with his receivers.
Bishop started to see and work with Portland State University Hall-of-Fame quarterback John Charles. For those who don’t know, Charles was a first team Western Conference Player of the Year in 1991 and 1992 and had led the Vikings to 20 wins over two years. Throwing for 58 Touchdowns and threw 592 yards against Cal Poly on his way to being named an All-American in 1992 and was a Harlon Hill Award Finalist that year as well. The Harlon Hill Award is for the best player in Division-II Football.
Working with a stellar quarterback that had some NFL experience, Charles spent some time with the Atlanta Falcons after his time with Portland State, has helped Bishop become more of a solid presence at QB.
“I went from just throwing a ball to knowing how to throw a ball properly. He taught me the mechanics of throwing a ball and football that helped me make my huge stride from sophomore year to Junior year. John Charles has had a huge part in making me into the player I am today,” he said. “He is a mentor and a friend that seems like family to me. He has challenged me in certain ways I haven’t been challenged before.
“But he helps me throw a better ball and make better decisions on the field. Helps me with my timing and what to expect my receivers to do and what the defense is to do on the play. I would say that John Charles has had a huge impact on me in making me a better player and leader on and off the field.”
His scouting report at quarterback entering hopefully his Senior Season this Spring talks about his versatility and using his legs to extend the play. Is calm in the pocket and uses his footwork, the pocket to make the read down field. Has the size for the next level as he continues to add strength and speed for the opportunity.
Bishop admits that during the time of Corona, it’s hard with teams not knowing what direction they are going in the future, but has drawn interest in the meantime by college coaches. The adversity however, has helped not just his Senior class but the underclassmen in terms of how to face adversity.
“I think this will help the younger guys in facing adversity and the challenges that life will throw at you. Teaching them many different lessons and I think this has made us older guys become better leaders and showing us different ways to teach and lead,” said Bishop.
Entering this last ride, Bishop has mentioned how the past two years has still been a learning experience for him. How close they were becoming through the adversity the program has gone through trying to build it back on up from the Coaches on down to the boys in the trenches.
One name Bishop points to is Tyler Voltin. Calling him a beast and protecting his blindside, but also a good leader as well and talked about how solid this team will be if given a crack at it.
“Voltin is also a very good leader within the team and has very good advice for the younger guys. A lot of the kids look up to him and I, and since we are really close, it helps even more. The other guys are doing a great job and working hard as well,” Bishop starts. “Our skilled positions are young but are coming along. I think we could have the best season since I have been here if we get to play.
“I think a lot of kids would have breakout season this year including myself. I think I have grown and developed into a respectable and vocal leader. I think the work I have put in with John Charles has helped me immensely to my decision making and ball accuracy.”
Regardless what comes of this year, if they play or they don’t, the bottom line is just putting in the time and effort. Waiting for that opportunity to play and improve.
“The bottom line is I will continue to work out with both John Charles and my high school coaches. I will also continue to lift weights and strive to continue to improve every day. I also have to say that my Basketball and Baseball coaches have been awesome and very supportive of me,” said Bishop. “They have helped me trying to reach my goals and helping me become better at their respective sports, but also making time for football.”