Marysville Pilchuck running back Austin Joyner hasn’t looked like a player with a bum ankle this season.
The injury makes his eye-popping numbers even more impressive.
The junior has rushed for 1,150 yards on just 68 carries and has done so while missing one game and playing sparingly in others. Last week the undefeated Tomahawks beat Oak Harbor 39-21 to advance to tonight’s Wesco 3A championship game against Glacier Peak. But Joyner aggravated his ankle injury in the contest.
Tomahawks head coach Brandon Carson and his training staff have been monitoring Joyner all week and say his status will be a game-time decision.
Luckily for the Tomahawks, they have depth at running back. Against Oak Harbor, Joyner missed much of the second half and carried the ball just six times, allowing junior Killian Page to step up in his absence. Page rushed for 167 yards on 28 carries and scored two touchdowns.
Page is just one of several other players who contribute to the Tommies’ running game — a group that includes Deion Stell, JJ Valencia and Hunter Trueax.
“I think the kid that gets overlooked the most is Hunter Trueax,” Carson said. “He really does a good job. He doesn’t get as many carries as those other guys, but he does a good job in the passing game. I think he’s an excellent blocker. He does all the little things that make us good.”
Having players behind Joyner who can produce means the Tomahawks don’t have to change the game plan if Joyner is unable to play.
“We’re still going to do what we do,” Carson said. “We still think we’ve got guys that can get the job done. Obviously, we’re not going to get the explosive plays that we get out of Austin it seems like a couple of times a game. I have confidence that we can get it done.”
Tonight’s game is a rematch of last year’s Wesco 3A championship, a game the Grizzlies won 49-40. Carson said his team needs to do a better job defensively and take care of the football if it hopes to see a different result this season.
The Tomahawks also have the challenge of preparing for a 7-1 Glacier Peak team that offers a different look from a year ago. The Grizzlies’ offense is more run-heavy than it has ever been. Spearheading that attack is Branson Corwin, who gives Glacier Peak a dual-threat at quarterback.
“I’m really impressed with how well their quarterback runs the ball,” Carson said. “They’re going to take some shots down the field from time to time trying to get you to think run a little bit and throw it over the top.”
Marysville-Pilchuck vs. Glacier Peak
When: Today, 8 p.m. | Where: Snohomish Veterans Memorial
What’s at stake: The winner earns the District 1 No. 1 seed and hosts Metro No. 5 seed, which will be the winner of tonight’s Blanchet-Chief Sealth game. The loser is the district No. 2 seed and hosts Narrows No. 3 seed, which could be Timberline, Wilson or Lincoln.
Webcast: stspn.com | Radio: KRKO, 1380 AM
Oak Harbor vs. Meadowdale
When: Today, 5 p.m. | Where: Edmonds Stadium
What’s at stake: The winner earns the District 1 No. 3 seed and hosts Kingco No. 2 seed, which will likely be Mount Si. The loser could be the district’s No. 4 or 5 seed, depending on Ferndale’s result against Anacortes. If Ferndale wins, the loser will be the No. 5 seed and play the Narrows No. 1 seed, either Timberline or Lincoln. If Ferndale loses, the loser will be the No. 4 seed and will travel to Kingco No. 1 seed Bellevue.
Stanwood vs. Mountlake Terrace
When: Today, 8 p.m. | Where: Edmonds Stadium
What’s at stake: The winner earns the District 1 No. 6 seed and travels to Greater St. Helen’s League No. 1 seed, which will be the winner of tonight’s Columbia River-Mountain View game.