Hard work paying off for West running back Bryant
Victoria West (4-3, 1-2) at Calallen (5-2, 2-1)
Friday, 7:30 p.m., Wildcat Stadium in Corpus Christi
Radio: KVNN, 1340 AM
The transformation didn't happen overnight for Qualian Bryant.
A junior now, he didn't go from a sophomore getting his feet wet on the varsity for Victoria West in 2011, to a major part of the offense in 2012 without putting in long hours during summer boot camp and offseason workouts.
All that work is paying off for the 5-foot-9, 165-pound running back that put in the work to earn a starting spot.
"I wanted to play bad," Bryant said. "I didn't want to sit on the sidelines and I started to work my butt off to start this year and I got it."
The Warriors (4-3, 1-2) go for their second road win of the season on Friday when they take on the Calallen Wildcats (5-2, 2-1) in Corpus Christi.
In 2011, Bryant played in four games with the varsity team and amassed two carries and four total tackles.
One year later, he's scored a team-leading 11 touchdowns, all on the ground, and has 619 rushing yards on 87 carries. Bryant is second in rushing yardage behind quarterback Garrett Rother.
It didn't take long for Bryant to make a name for himself on this year's team.
Bryant surpassed 115 yards rushing in three of the first four games of the season to help West jump out to a 3-1 record.
"He has something you can't coach and that's great vision," said Warriors coach Leonard McAngus. "When you run the zone play a lot, you've got to have a running back that can see where the openings are and he's just got a knack for finding them."
Although his varsity career has been only 11 games, younger players have noticed Bryant's work ethic.
"It motivates me to work harder because I know if I work hard, I can be just as good as he is," said sophomore receiver Malcolm Peoples.
Bryant along with Peoples are part of a young and talented set of skills positions players that have come up with big plays for the Warriors this season.
"That shows that we're going to have a great team for years and years to come," said senior offensive lineman Jonathan Vahalik.
The Warriors look to break a two-game skid against a South Texas power that's one of the new schools in District 30-4A.
McAngus said one of the things West learned about the losses to Victoria East and Calhoun the last two weeks is the fact that the players don't want to experience a loss again this year.
"We hate that taste of losing and we're ready to hit other people in the mouth and beat them," Bryant said.
West and Calallen will play for the first time ever and the Warriors will line up across from a defense that likes to blitz and get pressure on the opposition's quarterback.
Eight different Wildcats have combined for 18 sacks on the season. Opponents have averaged only 10 points per game against Calallen.
"They've got some really good skill kids that are really athletic in their secondary and at linebacker," McAngus said. "They've got good team speed defensively."
Offensively, the Wildcats use a multiple-back run game to move up and down the field.
Calallen averages 182 rush yards per game with Derek Scheible, Chris Price and Robert Maldonado combining to for 763 yards and eight touchdowns on 149 carries. The Wildcats have scored 14 rushing touchdowns using nine different backs.
A fast start will likely be another key for the Warriors on Friday.
In its four wins, West averaged 22 points in the first half. In its three losses, that average is cut in half to 11.
West is currently tied with Tuloso-Midway for fifth in district, a half game behind Gregory-Portland and East for the final playoff spot.
A loss could cost West since both Calalln and East would hold a head-to-head tiebreaker edge.