‘Loyalty over royalty’

Vikings sticking together despite hardship

Even with a disappointing end to the season, this was one of the most dominant teams H-F has ever had.

The Vikings went 10-2 this year and on average outscored their opponents by 33.3 points per game (46.6 to 13.3). Teams scored under 15 points in seven of their 12 games, a credit to their defense.

The offensive line, led by three-star RT Desmond Bland, allowed the offense to execute efficiently.

QB Bryce Gray threw for over 2,000 yards. Wisconsin commit Kendric Pryor had 12 TD’s, with over 1,100 yards. Deante Harley-Hampton had 27 TD’s and gained over 1,600 yards. His twin, Devante, had 21 TD’s and over 1,700 yards.

The Vikings were expected to make it to state this year, but ultimately fell short.

The loss to Bolingbrook at the end of the season lead to an early matchup with #1 ranked Loyola, a game they lost 35-28.

In order to contend next year, the team will have to rebuild and have the same if not stronger focus.

“The process is in place,” Head Coach Craig Buzea said. “We work hard in the off season and get ready to compete just like this team did and the teams that came before them. This is the third team in six years that has won at least 10 games, and the fourth team that has made it at least to the Final 8, so we are not looking to make many changes. There is no substitute for hard work.”

However, the team will have to get replacements for key offensive players that are graduating this year.

“There are no guarantees to anybody,” Buzea said. “The guys who work hardest and perform the best, will play. It is always fun to watch our guys compete for spots.”

For H-F to be successful again in 2016-2017, the players next year will have to match this year’s work ethic and the bonds they had.

“This group of guys were really close to each other,” Coach Alexander Pratt said. “This football season meant a little more to them than just the wins and losses. I think they truly enjoyed each other’s company and working hard for each other.”

This passion showed in their last game of the season as much as it did in the first game.

What makes this bond even more unique, it was built before they even started playing football.

“The reason our bond is so strong is because we were all close friends before teammates, so playing with your best friends makes the team even more special,” Harley-Hampton said.

Gray, Pryor, Percy Walters and the Harley-Hampton twins have all been friends since middle school at Parker.

This friendship was taken to an even higher level out of school because the players did things outside of football with the coaches as well.

Some events included team meals and their annual senior retreat.

“I’m going to remember all of the good times we had with each other the most,” senior RB Tony Bello said. “In practice and in games, we always found ways to joke around with each other and just have a good time. Off the field, we went to Coach Buzz’s house and paintballing.”

This team was talented and close to each other, which lead to positive results. Hopefully more of this is to come next year.