By David Krueger Herald Writer
MARYSVILLE — The good news in Marysville Pilchuck’s season-ending loss Saturday night was that it finished the 2012 season with a 2,000-yard rusher.
The even better news: that rusher is going to be around for two more years.
Sophomore Austin Joyner was a bright spot in the Tomahawks’ 65-34 3A state quarterfinal loss to Eastside Catholic, rushing 12 times for 119 yards to bring his season total to 2,036 for the season.
“He had a phenomenal season,” said Marysville Pilchuck head coach Brandon Carson. “For being a sophomore and doing the things he was able to do, it was pretty special. He’s a special player. I’m sure glad we’ve got him for a couple more years.”
The bulk of Joyner’s yards came from a 72-yard touchdown run on the second play of the game. The TD run gave the Tomahawks a 7-0 lead and confirmed Eastside Catholic head coach Jeremy Thielbahr’s suspicions.
“We walked into the staff room when we knew we were playing Marysville Pilchuck and said, ‘Hey, this is a one-touch guy,’” Thielbahr said. “This is a guy that, when he touches it, it could be a touchdown.”
Joyner knew he had over 2,000 yards, but didn’t have quite as many as he hoped. He finished 19 yards short of the school record, set by Austin Denton in 2008.
“It was a good year,” Joyner said. “There’s a record at the school, 2,055 yards I think, and I was just short of that.”
In the second quarter Joyner, who rushed for 100 of his yards in the first half, was noticeably limping on the field. He said that he aggravated a hip flexor from last week’s 33-21 win over Timberline, and had to have it taped up at halftime.
“It carried on into this week,” Joyner said of the injury. “I reinjured it to where I couldn’t run. I had to go get it taped up at halftime.”
Despite the pain, the sophomore said it was going to be impossible to keep him off the field.
“There’s no way I wasn’t going to play,” Joyner said. “There was nothing that was going to stop me from playing.”
In the second half, Joyner — and the rest of the Marysville offense — had a hard time getting things going against a fast, physical Eastside Catholic defense. Joyner said that the defense came out with different sets than the Tomahawks expected, which caused some problems.
“They didn’t do what we saw on film,” Joyner said. “They came out with a bunch of different looks and confused (us).”
Joyner was upset after the game, but said he could use it for motivation for the rest of his high school career.
He was, however, also proud of his team for making it to the state quarterfinals.
“It’s a good season; good run,” Joyner said. “We made it pretty deep in the playoffs. Farther than most people expected. That’s good. That’s an accomplishment.”
With senior running back Kacey Walker graduating, Joyner believes his workload could even increase next year.
For two more years, opposing coaches are going to have to gameplan for No. 5.
“He’s a great player,” Thielbahr said. “He plays with ferocious intensity and with great power. And he can take it to the house.”
And, at least for next year, Joyner already has a goal in mind.
“2,500 next year,” Joyner said. “That’s the goal.”