Football preview: Sophomore twins expected to start for St. FrancisWritten by Alissa Romstadt | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When opponents of the St. Francis de Sales Knights football team see double this season, it won’t have anything to do with getting tackled.
Stephen and Alex Joyce, junior defensive linebackers, are one set of twins on the team, according to Head Coach Dick Cromwell.
The second set, Hunter and Cam Stanley, have played football together since the fourth grade. This year, the St. Francis sophomores will play the offensive tackle and defensive end positions for the high school’s varsity football team.
Getting to play varsity football in the second year of high school is pretty rare, Cromwell said, but the team this year is going to “be a young team.”
“A lot of sophomores are gonna be playing,” Cromwell said. “[We have a] small group of seniors who are good kids, good football players, but we’re gonna be playing a lot of younger players.”
In fact, the team this year will be comprised of 17 returning seniors, 21 returning juniors and 40 new sophomores, which is a disadvantage, but Coach Cromwell said he has seen a lot in his 26th year coaching St. Francis football.
While more than half sophomores, there are some strong returning players to the Knights. Two quarterbacks, senior Tyler Johnston and junior Dan Yodzis, and wide receivers and defensive backs senior Scott Loy and junior Dillon Szegedi will all be players to watch this season, Cromwell said.
“You’re nervous when you’re playing that many young kids, but this [year’s] group of seniors will pull through for us,” he said.
Hunter and Cam are two of only four to six sophomores who will be starting this season. Both boys are grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this young team. To date, Hunter said his greatest accomplishment is to be able to play varsity football as a sophomore. In true twin fashion, Cam echoed his sentiment verbatim.
“I like how [football] revolves around being a team,” Hunter said. “Not just a single person can win a game. It’s everyone.”
Cam’s favorite aspect of the sport is a little different.
“You can hit people and not get in trouble for it,” he said, grinning. “And the camaraderie, it’s like a family.”
The football team at St. Francis is especially close. The fact that the players go to school and hang out together has created a huge bond, Cam said. And a lot of the coaches are teachers and knowing them is another benefit for the players, Hunter said. “They’re all good guys.”
While Coach Cromwell hasn’t noticed much difference in how the twins interact with each other and the way they work with the rest of the team, both boys describe their relationship on the field as competitive.
“We are extremely, extremely [competitive]. We go at each other. It’s a lot of fun, though,” Hunter said.
“I think it makes us better because we’re always trying to one up each other,” Cam added.
The fact that the boys work as offensive tackles on either side of the field for the same team ensures the sibling rivalry benefits the St. Francis team.
Playing the same position is nothing out of the ordinary for the boys. They both enjoy basketball and lifting weights, Hunter said. “And eating and sleeping,” Cam added. Their brother is 6-foot-11-inch basketball center Storm Stanley.
Off the field, the boys often have moments where they experience a special twin bond.
“Sometimes, I’ll be thinking of a song in my head and I’ll start singing it and he will too. At the exact same time,” Cam said.
Both boys have accomplished a lot in their short time at St. Francis.
“It looks like they’re gonna start as sophomores, which doesn’t often happen,” Cromwell said. “They were on an 8 and 1 freshman team last year and they both played basketball last year. They’re good athletes who have accomplished a lot and will hopefully accomplish more.”
Cam, Hunter and the rest of the young St. Francis team have a lot to look forward to this fall.
Hunter wants to have fun and win some games and Cam has his sights set on winning the City League.
For Coach Cromwell, the fun lies in “coaching on Friday nights against another high school. Game time is a lot of fun,” he said. “Two-a-day [practices] are hot and hard work, but the games are a lot of fun.”
Both boys hope to continue playing football in college. Coach Cromwell sees a bright future ahead for both with a little hard work.
“They’ve got the size. It doesn’t matter how big you are, the colleges still want some quickness out of you. So, I think that’s a big thing they have to look at over the next two and a half years is to get quicker,” he said.
The football season begins on Aug. 28 at The Glass Bowl against Sylvania Southview.