By Ray Hamill — He’s had to be patient, and there were times when it seemed the opportunity might never arrive, but Bode Joyner will get to lead a young St. Bernard’s football team this year and enjoy one final season on the gridiron.
The Crusaders quarterback is the only starting senior on the squad and he’s been waiting for this opportunity longer than most.
Joyner was originally slated to be the team’s starting quarterback as a sophomore, but broke his wrist while playing baseball that summer, which sidelined him for a few months.
Will Omey then stepped in and took full advantage of his opportunity, making the SB starting QB job his own with two fantastic seasons that were among the very best in the entire North Coast Section.
This year, as a senior, Joyner was once again slated to be the starter, but then came COVID, and that changed everything once again.
Three weeks ago, however, Joyner and the rest of the H-DNL got the news they had hoped for when they were cleared to begin play, news that was a relief to many, but the seniors around the league in particular.
And for the three-sport standout, who wants to play baseball in college, it will be his final season in football.
“He’s excited he gets the chance to play his senior season,” St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin said, adding that Joyner looks ready to go, having spent much of the lockdown working out with many of his teammates and hoping for the opportunity to play.
“Joyner’s looking outstanding at practice,” the coach added. “He’s up to 6-4, 190 pounds, he’s got a really strong arm, and he’s taken on a leadership role of the whole team.”
That’s exactly what a young Crusaders team needs, especially with more than half of their roster of 25 either freshmen or sophomores.
After losing so many talented and experienced seniors from last year’s state championship-winning team, someone needed to step in and fill the role.
“He’s definitely the leader of this team,” Tomlin said.
Joyner and his teammates will get their first taste of action on Saturday, when they scrimmage at McKinleyville at 2 p.m.
They open the season next weekend at home to crosstown rivals Eureka, and will play a shortened five-week campaign.