It’s hard not to notice Maricopa wide receiver and cornerback Johnny Johnson Jr. when he is on the football field.
Offensively, he is one of quarterback Aaron Owens’ favorite targets. Defensively, you’ll find him involved in nearly every play whether it be a part of a gang tackle or defending the pass. On special teams, he is picking up yards in chunks and shortening the field for his offense.
All in a day’s work for Johnson.
“He’s a guy that’s about one of three guys that brings a ton of versatility to the game,” Maricopa head football coach Chris McDonald said. “You see what he does: he just makes us coaches look good.”
Johnson is also a big part as to why the offense looks so good. The relationship Owens and Johnson have is undeniable. Johnson has hauled in seven touchdowns, averages over 100 receiving yards per game, and the two share the secondary as cornerbacks. In last week’s 19-10 win over McClintock, his versatility continued to be on display, rushing for 118 yards and a score.
“Johnny, man,” Owens said with a smile. “If I need a go-to receiver, I can go to him. He makes big-time plays. If we need him, just give him the ball and he will do what he (does).”
The cohesion is even on display in their answers. For quarterback and receiver, Johnson’s approach is simple.
“I just go out there and I just play, honestly,” Johnson said. “I just go with the flow of the game and I just do what I do.”
Coach McDonald said Johnson is one of many players on his team that provides the versatility, but more importantly the consistency, both on and off the field, as a leader of this team. The community of Maricopa was at a loss in August when football player Nate Ford died in a car accident. The team and the town continue to mourn the loss of a player who McDonald said had “flawless character.”
But they look to Ford as a model of how to carry themselves.
“We’re just going out and playing for him and that’s just our motivation this year,” Johnson said.
Using the versatility and consistency players like Johnson and Owens emulate from Ford, the Rams sit at 6-0 and are squarely set in the Division III playoff picture.
And they are hoping to continue that trend to Win State For Nate.