No matter how he tries, Dutchtown High School head football coach Clifford Fedd just cannot seem to run off his Bulldogs.
“One thing about these young men that I would like to say, regardless of how hard I work them, they continue to come back and beg for some more,” he said at the pre-season Henry County Schools media preview. “The determination to work hard and be better than what they’ve been in the past is in them. I commend them, because it hasn’t been easy. I have not been light on them.”
Fedd said the 4AAAAA team returned “a good group of seniors that have put in their time.”
One of them is Chris Joyce, wearer of the team’s No. 3 jersey.
“He’s been playing wide receiver the past couple of years,” Fedd said. “He’s going to help us out at secondary as well as the wide receiver corner.”
A busy Joyce lists his positions as cornerback, safety, wide receiver, running back, kickoff returner and punt returner.
“Chris Joyce does a great job in all three phases of the game. He starts on defense, he plays on offense and the things he does for Dutchtown on special teams are special,” Fedd said. “He works hard at practice and is really focused on being a good student-athlete. He does not want to underachieve.”
Little chance of that, with Joyce echoing the team’s mantra at the media preview.
“We’re going to work hard and we’re going to play hard,” he said.
The 5-11, 173-pound Hampton resident backed up his prediction this season with statistics like 26 tackles and 12 catches for 133 yards.
According to high school sports website MaxPreps, Joyce has six career touchdowns, including two this season, one in the Oct. 27 game at home when the Bulldogs blanked the Hampton Hornets 38-0, and one in the Oct. 13 17-7 tilt with the Woodland Wolfpack.
The Bulldogs have been on a winning streak since their 24-20 victory over the Locust Grove Wildcats Oct. 6, already improving over three consecutive years of 5-5 records.
Fedd said the Nov. 3 away game vs. Jones County is a “playoff type of game” for 7-2 Dutchtown, vital to a post-season run.
“We are definitely in the playoffs, but the game Friday will tell us what seed we will have and who we will be playing,” he said. “The game on Friday will determine who will be the No. 2 seed in region 4-5A.”
Dutchtown offense is averaging 25.3 points per game; Fedd said a stingy defense is only giving up 7.88 points per game.
On both sides of the ball is 17-year-old Joyce.
“Chris makes plays all over the field,” Fedd said.
The player said it is part of the excitement he brings to the gridiron.
“I only need one play to change the whole momentum of the game,” Joyce said.
Figures favor the two-sport star, who also runs track in events like the 100-meter, long and triple jump, 4x100 and 4x400.
“I love working with numbers,” Joyce said about his favorite subject, math.
The owner of a 3.1 grade point average said he is on track to graduate in December, if he chooses, and takes college classes already.
Joyce has 12 offers to play at the next level.
“Chris will definitely have his chance to further his education and an opportunity to play college football,” Fedd said. “Things are coming alive for him lately.”
Wherever Joyce plays – and studies sports medicine – he may continue his leadership style.
“He speaks up and leads when he is supposed to and he does a good job of making sure other players doing what they are supposed to be doing as well,” Fedd said. “Chris often asks what can he do to help the team this week.”
The son of Eric Joyce and Melissa Thompson, whose free time includes coaching Little League football, advises next year’s Bulldogs to strive for the best on and off the field and continue to push and motivate each other.
“Continue with growth of what the class of 2018 has started and make sure it is on a solid strong foundation,” he said.