Nic Olney has been trying to build the Widefield football program one day at a time since he took over in June 2016.
It wasn't exactly the easiest job to take over, as the Gladiators had gone 1-9 the season before Olney arrived. But after a 5-5 record in 2016, and with many returning contributors, Widefield looks to be set up for more success.
It starts with senior quarterback, and captain, TJ Davis. Davis led the Gladiators in rushing, passing and all-purpose yards last season on his way to earning an honorable mention for the 4A All-State team. While Olney recognizes that Davis is an important piece on the field, he believes his most important contributions may come as a leader.
"Everybody thinks that an individual like TJ Davis can make or break your season, and he can," Olney said. "But at the same time, TJ's the type of kid where he's a team leader and a team player, where he's building up the rest of the kids around him."
Davis will be joined offensively by last year's leading receiver, Myreik Goodwin, as well as Frankie Ingraldi and Isaac Price, who finished second and third on the team in rushing yards.
While the skill positions seem to be positives, Davis and the rest of his offense know that they will only thrive with the help of the offensive line.
"Everybody's expecting us to do big things, but it all starts with the offensive line," Davis said. "If the offensive line doesn't produce, then we won't be able to produce anything. It all starts up front. Then once we get that open space, we'll just do what we do."
Defensively, Widefield had a bit more attrition. The two leading tacklers, Nate Miller and Luke Thirsh, both graduated, leaving the role of defensive stopper somewhat up for grabs.
So far, Olney sees promise from three seniors: linebacker Nathan Daniel, safety Isaac Gillette and defensive lineman Sam Reed. While Gillette is coming off a knee injury that sidelined him last season, Daniel and Reed both played regularly in 2016 and are Olney's best hopes for replacing the leadership and production of Miller and Thirsh.
With all the experienced returners for the Gladiators, it would be easy for them to predict success this season.
But Olney claims the team hasn't made any goals for its record. Instead, Widefield is focused on the present and improving now.
"We're not looking at setting a goal for 7-3, 9-1 or whatever," Olney said. "We're just looking at getting better every single day. I know it's an old cliche, but I believe in it. We're just gonna take it one day at a time, one week at a time. Every rep, every practice, one day at a time."