ARGYLE — When Brandon Boyzuick was 8, he was fielding baseballs being launched into the air by a pitching machine as part of a drill to practice catching fly balls. One ball glanced off his glove and split his lip, resulting in a trip to the hospital for 30 stitches.
Sue Boyzuick figured her son might be done for the day, but Brandon was having no part of that. “He got right up and wanted to get back out on the baseball field,” she recalled with a laugh. “It took a lot of heart and guts for him to get back out there.”
Fast-forward to Sept. 20 of this year, and Boyzuick, now the senior starting quarterback at Argyle, goes down while blocking on a play midway through the first quarter. He returns to the game noticeably limping and clearly not as mobile.
He throws a touchdown pass before being hit late in the second quarter. School trainers decide he’s had enough and put a soft cast on his leg, and he spends the second half of the game on crutches. He’s diagnosed with a deep bone bruise on both sides of his left ankle, but he had only one thing in mind — to get back into the game.
“He didn’t want to come out of that game,” Sue Boyzuick said. “He’s always been a perfectionist. He expects to be the best, whether he’s on the field or in anything he does.”
Expectations indeed are high for the 6-foot, 200-pound Boyzuick and the Argyle Eagles, who begin their quest for a sixth straight district championship tonight at Carrollton Ranchview. The Eagles are 6-0 and ranked second in Class 3A. They have gone four seasons without losing a district game and have high hopes of returning to the state final, where they lost to Wimberley in 2011.
The Eagles, who returned nine starters each on offense and defense, have outscored opponents 298-54 this season. While much of the attention has surrounded four players already committed to Football Bowl Subdivision programs — wide receiver Ian Sadler and safety Connor Wilson to Texas Tech, linebacker Sam Sizelove to Kansas State and kicker Cole Hedlund to Arkansas — there’s no question that Boyzuick’s leadership and play at quarterback will be crucial in the Eagles’ drive to the playoffs.
He has completed 44 of 70 passes for 708 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions in 4 1/2 games. He was held out of one game because of the ankle injury.
It’s been a long road for Boyzuick on his way to leading one of the premier football programs in the state, especially for someone who rarely played quarterback until his junior season.
First of all, there was the matter of just getting to Argyle, a journey that covered more than 5,300 miles and five states. He was born in Erie, Pa., and following the career of his dad, Mike Boyzuick, lived in New York, New Jersey, Texas, California and back to Texas before settling in Argyle the summer before his seventh-grade year.
As a youth, he played baseball, soccer and basketball until he was lured by the sport that defines the state.
“Friday night lights,” Brandon Boyzuick said. “I thought it was a cool idea to be a part of that. I had never thought about it [football] until I got here.”
He played linebacker and quarterback on the seventh-grade “B” team at Argyle. “I remember this goofy facemask I had, but it was a fun year for me.”
He was primarily a safety and receiver the next two seasons, and as a sophomore played tight end and safety on the junior varsity team.
The varsity Eagles, in the meantime, were being led by arguably the best quarterback Argyle had ever had, Austin Aune, who threw for 7,452 yards and 73 touchdowns in leading the Eagles to a 39-4 record as a starter and the 2011 state final, where they lost to Wimberley 21-14.
Aune signed a letter of intent with Texas Christian and was in summer workouts with the Horned Frogs when he was drafted by the New York Yankees in the second round. He is in the Yankees’ minor-league system.
When Aune graduated, so did backup Drew Davis. Argyle coach Todd Rodgers said he identified about six players to try out for the quarterback position. Boyzuick was one of them, as Rodgers was impressed with Boyzuick’s arm and attitude, having watched him on the baseball team.
“We were in dire straits after Austin graduated,” Rodgers said. “We had some gaps. We went through the drills, and Brandon began to emerge. We had a conversation, and I asked him if he was willing to commit. He said, without reservation, yes.
“We had to teach him how to manage the game. He had no varsity game experience, but I knew he could be successful.”
So when Boyzuick lined up against a tough Abilene Wylie team for his first game at the start of the 2012 season, it was a new, humbling experience. He completed eight of 18 passes for 68 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns, and had 4 yards rushing on seven attempts in a 31-14 loss.
But Boyzuick regrouped and the Eagles did not lose again until falling to Gilmer 42-21 in the regional semifinals. He finished the season throwing for 1,989 yards and 19 touchdowns.
“There’s nothing like being in the playoffs in Texas football,” Boyzuick said. “I was always pretty competitive as a kid with everything I do. I love to compete. I want to play as hard as I can. I get real frustrated when I make a bad pass. One of the coaches said I’m my own worst enemy, but it helps me strive to get better and improve my play.”
Boyzuick’s first love is baseball. He’s been a two-year starter on the varsity team, playing shortstop and third base and pitching. Argyle has won five straight district titles, reaching the regional playoffs in Boyzuick’s sophomore season and the area round last year. In one two-game stretch, he drove in 10 runs, including a grand slam and a walk-off home run to win games against Sanger and Rowlett.
“He’s a quiet individual … not a rah-rah guy,” baseball coach Ricky Griffin said. “He leads with his play. His work ethic makes him a leader, and the others see how he goes about his business.”
Boyzuick’s father played third base and shortstop in the Dodgers’ and Brewers’ farm systems, and his uncle Kenny Harring was in the Braves’ organization.
“I’ve always wanted to play baseball,” Boyzuick said. “Our whole family is a baseball family. I hope to play baseball in college. I’ve been dreaming of that for a while.”
His father has been impressed with his work ethic.
“I’ve seen him grow up and mature,” Mike Boyzuick said. “He doesn’t train or work out because he’s told to, but because he wants to. I’ve seen him work to improve his abilities, and that’s going to serve him well the rest of his life.”
Brandon Boyzuick also has held up well under the pressure of playing at school where expectations are high in the classroom and in extracurricular activities. Argyle has won two straight Lone Star Cups, four total and three in the last five years from the University Interscholastic League. The award honors overall excellence in athletics and academics.
“He’s a competitor,” Rodgers said. “We had a chance to shape him, to develop him. He’s had to learn two offenses in two years. The quarterback is constantly in a state of growth. There’s been so much improvement with him. It’s interesting how things have a way of turning out.”
Grade Point Average: 4.0
Football: Two-year starter at quarterback. Has thrown for 2,697 yards and 28 touchdowns. Record of 16-2 as a starter.
Baseball: Two year starter.
Parents: Sue and Mike Boyzuick
Siblings: Tanner, 16; Katie 12
Favorite subject: math
Career plans: study business
Favorite restaurant: Babe’s
Music: listens to country and rap
Motto: Yaw Yaw—You are who you associate with.
What his friends say: “He’s a really tough kid. He cares about his friends and sticks up for you. He’s probably the funniest kid I know. But he’s definitely a competitor.”—Sam Sizelove.