PANTHER PROFILE: Cornerback Joiner plays each down like it’s his last

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Panthers’ senior cornerback and punt/kick returner Dyllon Joiner (#23) finds a hole in the defense during Liberty Hill’s playoff victory against Canyon Lake. (Alex Rubio Photo)

Panthers’ senior cornerback and punt/kick returner Dyllon Joiner (#23) finds a hole in the defense during Liberty Hill’s playoff victory against Canyon Lake. (Alex Rubio Photo)

By KEITH SPARKS

Senior cornerback Dyllon Joiner leads the Panther defense in passes defended, interceptions and blocked field goals. He leads the special teams in kickoff return yards and punt return yards. In a playoff game against a team that passes more than the Panthers have seen all season, he’ll likely need to do all that, and maybe more, to help keep Liberty Hill’s season alive.

“This team is about 85 to 90 percent pass,” Joiner said regarding the Beeville Jones Trojans. “Right now, we’ve just been working on a lot of pass coverage to make sure that their quarterback doesn’t get any good gains on us.”

Many football coaches and analysts will say that playing cornerback is one of the hardest positions in football, and Joiner wouldn’t disagree.

“Just trying to anticipate the receiver’s moves,” Joiner said regarding the hardest aspect of playing corner. “Having to watch his hitch, and you’re obviously going to want to be looking at the quarterback, but that’s the last thing you want to do as a corner. Putting it all together is a hassle sometimes.”

Having transferred to Liberty Hill from Leander High School just before his sophomore season, Joiner was forced to play on the Panthers’ junior varsity team during his sophomore year after playing for the Lions’ varsity squad as a freshman due to UIL regulations regarding transfer student-athletes. Once he became a Panther, it was clear that he’d play corner and return punts and kickoffs for special teams.

“Those are the funnest ones to do,” Joiner had to say about returning kicks. “Those are definitely the funnest positions to be playing. It’s nerve racking. You just kind of hope that everyone on defense gets the right blocks for me to make a big play or do what I need to do.”

Although Joiner hasn’t had an opportunity to return a punt or kickoff for a touchdown yet this season, he hopes he’ll get his chance before the season is over. After all, his only punt return for a touchdown last season came against Gonzalez in the second round of the playoffs. Joiner, as is likely the case with the rest of the seniors, knows that from this point on, any game could be his last in a Liberty Hill uniform.

“Any game could be my last game, if you think about it,” Joiner said. “It’s definitely nerve racking. I like to think like every play is going to be my last play now, because it’s getting to the end of the season. I like to go all out and do the best I can.”

Joiner hasn’t made a final decision regarding his post graduation plans, but he knows he’d like to play football at the next level, if possible. Regardless of which school he attends, Joiner plans on working toward a business degree.

“I was getting looked at a little bit junior year and this year,” Joiner said. “I just have to wait and see if anything comes up. A few of them that looked at me last year were Texas Tech, Missouri, Air Force, Kansas. Those were the ones that came up and talked to me at the school and said they were interested.”

Joiner and the Panthers will look to continue their playoff run against the Beeville Jones Trojans at 2 p.m. at Matador Stadium in Seguin this Saturday afternoon.

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