Austin Joyner sees clearly.
As one of the most dynamic running backs in the state, Joyner has plenty of reachable goals before him as his senior season at Marysville-Pilchuck begins.
He wants a 2,000-yard rushing season as a senior, a feat that would give him the season school record owned by Austin Denton.
Joyner, who comes into the season with 3,823 yards, would move into the state’s top-10 list in rushing yards with a 2,000-yard season.
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No matter how many yards he gains, though, Joyner says this will be his final season on offense. He will be a defensive back at Washington State.
“From a football standpoint, I want the longest career I can have,” Joyner said. “The injury rate is ridiculously high for running backs, and I’m already starting to feel my body. And the hits just get harder once you’re in college.”
Joyner has suffered leg injuries each of the past two springs during track season. It cost him playing time during his junior year of football.
Playing defensive back for WSU will be an extension, of sorts, for Joyner, who plays outside linebacker in Marysville-Pilchuck’s defense.
“It’s sort of like being a defensive back,” Joyner said of the position.
While his future will be on the defensive side, his present definitely includes being the tip of the sword in coach Brandon Carson’s offense.
“It’s hard to put into words what he’s like,” Carson said. “It’s a calming effect. When you go on the field, you probably have the best football player on the field. If you need a play, let’s see what Austin can do.”
What Joyner has done already is average 20 yards per carry as a junior. He has 47 career rushing touchdowns as he starts his senior campaign, which opens Friday when the Tomahawks begin defense of their WesCo 3A North title. Marysville-Pilchuck plays host to Kamiak at 7 p.m.
Should Joyner run for 2,000 yards this year, he might want to consider trying to reach 2,125. That’s how many yards he would need to tie Blaine’s Mario Gobbato for the fifth spot on the state’s rushing list. Gobbato has 5,958 yards.
Joyner has been close to the 2,000-yard mark previously. He ran for 1,981 yards as a sophomore.
“It makes my job a lot easier,” Carson said. “You just give him the ball and get out of the way.”
By doing so, Carson and his team believe they can get at least into the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs, as they did during a 10-1 season a year ago. Maybe further.
“This is like freshman ball for us,” Joyner said. “We’ve pretty much been playing together all these years, back to middle school. It just makes things comfortable. The chemistry is better.”