Ready for a rebound – Patriots hope for postseason return

In the regular season finale against Azle Christian last season, Victory Christian Academy coach Joe Berry saw three of his players go down with knee, ankle and concussion injuries.

Without three starters, the Patriots fell to Azle Christian 54-6.

“We had some injuries, and that was kind of the end of it,” Berry said. “[Azle] beat us pretty bad. We got down to six people and had kids playing out of position. We were just trying to get through the game.”

After reaching the Texas Christian Athletic Fellowship Division II six-man semifinals twice in the last three years, the Patriots’ hopes of making a return were quickly dashed.

“Anytime you lose a starter in six man that’s huge,” Berry said. “It’s almost 20 percent of your team on both sides of the ball. Staying healthy is key, so you can keep your best players on the field.”

In May, Berry was concerned about even fielding a team for 2018.

“We lost a lot,” Berry said. “Our seniors were really important to us. At the end of the school year, I didn’t know if we would have enough to put a team together.”

As it ended up, Berry had more than enough to compete with.

With 14 players on the roster, it will be one of the largest teams he’s had in four years of coaching at Victory Christian.

“This is one of the biggest groups we’ve ever had, as far as the numbers,” Berry said “This is nice for practice.”

The Patriots went 6-4 last year. Sophomore Grant Shriver will take over the reigns as the starting quarterback.

“He’s going to be better,” Berry said. “He’s got a year of experience and knowledge under his belt.”

Victory Christian opens the season Aug. 31 on the road at Covenant Classic.

“We’re trying to get a tradition started,” Berry said. “We’ve got to get the young kids bought in on it, but I think we’re going to be very competitive this year.”