“No shortcuts... let’s work.”
That is the motto of Victoria West football this year, and the approach every player is taking this season.
The sentiment is important because the Warriors have key players to replace.
Victoria city rushing record holder running back Tyvon Hardrick, quarterback Donovan Harris and leading tackler Bryce Sitka graduated last year.
But with those players gone, comes more opportunities for younger players, and the Warriors still have a wealth of experience, returning seven starters on offense and eight on defense.
“We have some guys coming back that have quite a bit of experience, including some with three years,” said West head coach Courtney Boyce. “I think that this senior class is a pretty close knit group. It’s shown with how resilient they’ve been with everything they’ve gone through this year, and it’s amazing how close they are and the experience they bring.”
The Warriors come off a season where they went 7-5 and 6-2 in District 15-5A, Division I, their district again this season.
Boyce expects his team to be competitive in district again this season, and the team is very familiar with most of its foes, with the only newcomer being Gregory-Portland.
“We have a lot of respect for everybody we’re playing,” Boyce said. “We’re going to have to play with great focus every week and there’s a lot of tough teams in this district. A big reason we scheduled Boerne Champion Week 1 is to make sure we’re ready for our district and Flour Bluff in our first district game.”
There will be a quarterback battle when practice resumes. It was expected to take place in the spring and summer, but with the COVID-19 pandemic things were put on hold.
“It’s going to be an open competition, Boyce said. “Blake Buzzell and Brendon Solis have both gotten some time with the starters and then there’s some younger guys and La’Trell Barfield has played some quarterback as well. Blake and Brendon did some really good things taking care of the football and moving the chains over the summer, and we’ll just have to see how they all look with pads on.”
Key returners include Barfield, Buzzell, Chase Patek, Colten Matus, Jody Ybarra, Johnny Martinez, Sammy Brito, Beau Sciba and Jose Aguilar.
Boyce expects newcomers to contribute as well. Two players to watch are wide receiver D’andre Fillmore and nose tackle Kievan Myles.
Boyce is confident this season’s team can takes to repeat last year’s success and is excited for them to be able to get back on the field.
“This group understands that we have to come with intensity and excitement everyday and they’ve continued to build and not take any shortcuts,” Boyce said. “You have to find a way to continue to be explosive offensively and make good plays, get takeaways on defense and make plays on special teams. If we put in the work and have that focus on all three phases, we can accomplish a lot.”