Victoria West coach Courtney Boyce is focused on bringing his team closer together after an up-and-down 2018.
“We want this team to be a family,” he said. “At the end of the day, that is the most important thing for us. We want this to be a brotherhood.”
The Warriors finished last season with a 5-5 record and went 4-4 overall in District 15-5A. The team had a similar season in 2017, when they finished 5-5 with a 3-3 district record.
While it was good enough to get West to the playoffs two years ago, it was not in 2018, the team’s first year in District 27-5A, Division I.
Bryce Sitka, who was voted by his teammates as defensive and team MVP last season, experienced the playoffs two years ago in his first varsity season.
“My goal for this team is to get back to the playoffs,” Sitka said. “I made it there as a sophomore, and it was a great feeling. Hopefully, we can do that again this year.”
The Warriors return nine starters, three on offense and six on defense. Among them is running back Tyvon Hardrick, who has a chance to break the city rushing record this year.
Hardrick ended his junior season with 1,837 yards rushing and 29 touchdowns to bring his career rushing yardage to 2,787. He would need to run for 1,996 yards this year to break Victoria West graduate Garmaquise Girdy’s mark of 4,783 yards.
Donovan Harris returns at quarterback for the Warriors as well. Boyce views the wealth of experience as an asset for the team.
“Having returners like that is a great thing,” he said. “They bring knowledge and can help teach the younger guys, which is very important. They know what it is like to compete and work day in and day out.”
Sitka and senior linebacker Beau Sciba will anchor the defense. The two combined to record 168 tackles in their junior season.
“I think we have a really good chance to be a good defense this year,” Sitka said. “We have a mix of guys returning and younger guys, but we have been working hard over the summer. I think our new guys can step up to the job.”
On the offensive side of the ball, Harris expects the team to be explosive, and he has high hopes for the season.
“I feel like we can win our district,” he said. “I think we have a lot of people stepping up and doing a good job so far. I just feel if we all get on the same page, then we can do something serious.”
While players may have lofty expectations, Boyce remains firmly planted in the present.
“You can’t get caught up with looking at things down the line,” he said. “We have to focus on the day-to-day and getting better each week.”