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First season lives up to expectations for Johnson

Newly hired Pike Liberal Arts junior varsity football head coach Zach Johnson said his first season lived up to his expectations.

The Patriots knocked off Snook Christian Monday 41-0 to give them a 5-3 record in 2017.

“It was a lot of fun,” Johnson said. “We really had some great kids. They came to work every day and were excited about practice and about games. They showed up and put the work in and I was very proud with what they accomplished.”

Johnson came to Pike Lib after being on the staff at Charles Henderson High School. Other than the differences between public school and private school, he said there weren’t many surprises.

The biggest difference came in the way of game preparation.

“Coming into it I wasn’t 100 percent sure what to expect moving from public school ball to AISA,” Johnson said. “It was interesting during the season doing game prep for a team. I am a film junky. Some (private) teams film, but a lot of them don’t. So trying to find what people run was kind of an interesting process.”

That process led Johnson and the Patriots to go into many of their games blind.

“Some of them we went into blind,” Johnson said. Kind of like what we think they may run. Sometimes it was what we thought and sometimes it was completely different. That was interesting.”

The biggest goal of any junior varsity football team is to get the players ready for the varsity level. The most impressive things Johnson said he saw from his team was their ability to keep fighting. After a rash of injuries in week two, the players stopped fighting.

“All of them continued to fight and they wanted to get better,” Johnson said. “I think that is one of those things that when they do make that transition to varsity and adversity hits, they have been there before.”

Even though the junior varsity season has come to an end, that doesn’t mean Johnson is no longer coaching. Johnson is also a coach for the varsity Patriots and spends much of the game looking down on the field from the press box.

“I am enjoying it,” Johnson said. “It’s been interesting to be up there in the box and being much more involved in the X’s and O’s, breaking down coverages, what defenses are doing  and what offenses are doing. I think it has helped me out as well.

“All of my time has mostly been on the field in coaching. Being up top and seeing that has been good.”

Johnson and the varsity Patriots will be at home Friday night when they take on Morgan Academy in their final region contest at 7 p.m.