By Emma Coleman and Taylor Clewell
Beginning the school year not only means a return to early mornings, homework, and the elusive struggle to find the correct class on the first day, but also the official start of fall sports.
Of the many sports offered, football is the one that draws the biggest crowd. From themed games to the marching band’s halftime show to a roaring student section so hype the bleachers can’t stand it, Titan Football truly has a home here at West.
“It’s a privilege to play,” said junior Chad Burkhart who plays right tackle. “I go out there like it’s gonna be my last time, just play it like it’s my last one.”
Former head coach Royce Boehm was near the center of it all. Boehm headed the program for twelve seasons before retiring at the end of the last school year.
“We were expecting it after his last son left so we weren’t shocked or anything, it was still sad to see him go,” said Burkhart.
Vincent Careswell has taken over as head coach of the Titans. “I have a new perspective on how much responsibility it is to be a head coach and how important communication is,” said Careswell.
“We have a whole new set of coaches so literally nothing is the same as last year. It’s just completely different from what it was,” Burkhart said.
“I think the kids have responded well not only to new leadership but to all of our additions to coaching staff,” explained Careswell.
However, according to Burkhart, the changes the players are experiencing are more than an altered strategy. “The way he coaches is more supportive, he actually cares about us instead of just caring about the strongest or the biggest or fastest person on the team so he actually cares more,” he said.
Careswell hopes his team can achieve more than just wins on the field. “I want our players to develop into young men and contribute to society in a positive way,” he said.
“We’re definitely more of a family now so that helps us on the field on the field. I think we play better because of it,” Burkhart said.
This newfound connection has paid off thus far for the Titans, who won their first game against Blue Springs South 35-23. Of course, their victory against last years state champions was hard earned.
“We’ve just been preparing for Blue Springs South to show that we’re not just some pushover team. We’ve been watching film and watching what they do and focusing only on them and that’s made us better,” Burkhart said.
An area of focus for the Titans going into their first game was, “staying focused and staying together as a team,” said Careswell, “We have a good team that is highly motivated to do their best.”
The Titan’s strategy of taking each game as it comes is a mindset they plan to maintain throughout the remainder of the season, “We’re just going to focus on the next team. That’s going to be our mentality throughout the year: just keep beating team by team until we get to state hopefully. Our goal this year is to win state.”
“In our conference all games are hard games,” said Careswell, “we have to prepare for all of them, I think we will compete in every game this year.”