The 2019 St. Pius X High School football team will look different from the squad that made the second round of the playoffs a year ago. Twenty-eight seniors, including the majority of the team’s offensive starters, graduated. A lot will be asked of the small class of 2020.
Nick Joiner, one of the top seniors for the Golden Lions, is expected to be a major contributor in the upcoming year. We spoke with him to discuss the young team last week.
Q: What would you say is the team’s biggest strength at this point in the season?
A: I think our biggest strength is how close we have come together in the offseason. Having been a part of teams that haven’t been close, I know how important it is to be connected with the younger guys, especially this year since some of them will be playing.
Q: What or who has been the biggest surprise to you this offseason?
A: Lawson Schultz has really stepped up as a leader over the summer. It makes a huge difference during the offseason, because there is no immediate reward to the work we’ve been putting in, but he has placed in everyone’s mind that the work we do right now can only put us in a better position to win on Friday nights.
Q: What thing or things has the team been working on most this offseason?
A: Every summer we work on the passing game a lot, and it has improved a lot throughout the offseason.
Q: What has been the biggest difference between last year’s team and this year’s team thus far?
A: The number of seniors dropped from 28 to 11 which is a big change, but every senior has accepted the challenge. Another big change is the amount of experience we have coming back, but the sophomores and juniors understand they play a big role now.
Q: Which young guys have stepped up into key roles or leadership roles after the class of 2019 graduated?
A: Charlie Long had varsity experience as a sophomore and has taken the lead of the offensive line and brought the guys who don’t have that experience with him. Cameron Cainon has also stepped up knowing he will play a big role on both sides of the ball.
Q: How would you describe the SPX football class of 2020 in a phrase or sentence?
A: The 2020 senior class is willing to do whatever it takes to prepare the younger guys as well as take charge of our team and lead them in the right direction. Every year we’ve had a small senior class the team has been close, and the chemistry has been there. We don’t plan to change that at all.
Q: What has been your favorite football moment at St. Pius to this point?
A: My favorite St. Pius football moment would have to be carrying the flags down the night of the pink out my junior year. Breast cancer has affected my life directly, and leading the team down that night was something special.
Q: What is next for you? Are you planning to play in college?
A: I have not decided yet if I want to continue playing in college, but that could easily change depending on any opportunities that arise my senior year. I have met with a good number of coaches who have shown interest but have no standing offers at this point.