Joyce cousins lead Maroons into battle

For Joe and Frank Joyce, being a captain is about a whole lot more than calling heads or tails at the pregame coin flip.

To the Butte Central cousins, it is serious business.

“It definitely means being a leader out here on the practice field and on the game field,” Frank Joyce says of the captain responsibilities. “You pretty much have to be a leader in every aspect, even off the field. When you hear about of some kid doing something he should be doing, you’ve got to go tell him what’s up.”

“You get everybody to play and not quit,” Joe adds moments after the Maroons wrapped up their first practice of the season.

Frank Joyce is a 5-foot-10, 210-pound center and nose guard for the Maroons. Joe Joyce is a 5-9, 160-pound running back/strong safety.

Both are seniors, even though neither has reached his 18th birthday yet.

Both are also team leaders.

A player vote in May picked the Joyce cousins as captains as the 2012 Maroons look to make a return trip to the Class A state playoffs.

“They’re the kind of kids who worked really hard to get to where they are at,” BC coach Don Peoples Jr. says of the Joyces. “That’s a big factor in why their teammates voted them captains.”

The captain positions were welcomed by the Joyces. You might even say they campaigned for them.

“I was hoping I would be voted captain,” Frank says. “I talked to a couple guys who said ‘You got my vote.’ I was pretty excited when it happened.”

“I talked to almost the whole football team about it,” Joe says.

The captains didn’t waste any time getting to work, and their first order of business didn’t even involve players already on the team.

The captains needed to do some recruiting.

Always crunched for numbers, the Maroons were looking at just 28 players during their camp in June.

“We’ve got 32, 33 now,” Joe says.

The cousins used a little arm twisting, a little encouragement and some good old-fashioned shame to increase the size of the BC roster.

“We just tell them ‘You only get high school once. You might as well take advantage of it.'” Joe says. “It only comes once.”

“You’ve got your whole life to play golf,” Frank says. “You don’t get to play football very often. I think it will pay off in the long run.”

Recruiting teammates isn’t anything new for Frank Joyce, who has been a Maroon since kindergarten.

He first used his recruiting talents as a fourth grader when he just might have lured his cousin away from the public schools.

“He was on my little guy team in fourth grade,” Frank says, looking at Joe. “So I asked him and (BC senior quarterback) Brady Tippett, too. I said ‘You guys should come to Central.’ What do you know, here they are.”

Joe Joyce started in the Butte Central system in fifth grade.

Both cousins — and Tippett for that matter — are entering their second season as two-way starters for the Maroons.

Joe Joyce uses his quickness and speed as a running back and safety, while Frank Joyce uses everything he has an undersized lineman on both sides of the ball.

“Speed is my thing too,” Frank jokes. “I guess I do use my quickness on the line, especially at center. Most nose guards are, I haven’t played one smaller than me yet. So I have to use my quickness. I think it’s a good advantage a lot of times, especially on pass game. It’s a lot easier to block those big guys because they can’t move around as much.”

Joe Joyce hopes to use the 2012 season to springboard him to a career in college football.

“I’d like to play,” Joe says. “Maybe I’ll play at an NAIA school like (Montana) Tech.”

Knowing he’s likely too small to play on the line at the next level, Frank Joyce, who also plays tennis for the Maroons, says the 2012 season will likely be his last in football pads.

“I’m not looking to play football in college,” he says. “This is going to be it for me.”

That would be it for a career, by the way, that began at the Copper Mountain Sports Complex as a member of the Vikings, Eagles and Seahawks Little Guy Football teams.

It would be it for a career in which he was always teammates with his cousin Joe.

The cousins called it a friendly partnership in which they always shared the common goal. Their leadership style of straightening out a teammate who lost his focus has never turned one Joyce on the other.

” I haven’t had any conflicts with Joe,” Frank says. “That’s not me and Joe’s style. The Joyces always stick together.”

Both cousins saw time — mostly on special teams — as sophomores when Butte Central made a run to the Class A semifinals.

In 2011, the Maroons returned just two starters from that team — Zach Kasperick and Jake Simkins, BC’s lone seniors last year.

Playing in probably the toughest conference in the Class A, the Maroons went a respectable, yet disappointing 4-5 overall and 2-3 in conference.

The Joyce cousins are determined to make that season one they can learn from and build on.

“We lost like 18 seniors, so it was a lot of learning,” Frank Joyce says. “We had a lot of new guys who jumped in because we only had two starters back. It was a good learning experience for everyone. I think we’re a lot more experienced this year.”

That dedication doesn’t rest on Sunday’s when coaches can’t make high school players practice.

“We had a day off Sunday and we told the kids to take it easy and get some rest because we have four two-a-days left,” Peoples says. “Joe organized a group of kids to do some extra conditioning. (The Joyces) both have done a good job with their leadership.”

Getting back to the playoffs is a goal for the Maroons, who return seven players who received all-conference honors last year.

Central’s 2011 season came to an end Oct. 21 at Vigilante Field in Dillon. The Maroons reached emotional highs and lows on that Friday night against the No. 1-ranked Beavers, the eventual state champions.

BC became the first team to take a lead on the Beavers when Tippett hit Conner McGree for a 19-yard touchdown pass and Danny Peoples booted the extra point for a 7-6 advantage.

BC, though, headed home disappointed as Dillon scored the next 48 points in a 54-7 win.

Two days later, the Maroons were back to work with their eventual captains leading the way.

“After we lost to Dillon we were in the weight room that next Sunday,” Joe says.

“We were pretty much right back at it,” Frank adds. “I have pretty high expectations. I want to go deep in the playoffs and hopefully make something happen.”

The Maroons begin that playoff quest Aug. 25 when they play host to Belgrade at 7 p.m. at Bulldog Memorial Stadium.

First, BC will scrimmage during the annual Maroon and White Game at the Torger Oaas Field, which is next to the Maroon Activities Center, this Saturday. That practice game begins at 10:30 a.m.

The Maroons opened two-a-day practices early in the morning on Aug. 10.

Thanks to their captains, everyone in uniform were ready to go from the start.

They had no other choice.

“It was a pretty exciting morning,” Frank says. “Everyone was jacked up and ready to go.”



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