St. Charles Herald-guide’s High School Playmakers
Johnson carries the Destrehan Wildcats
By Jonathan Menard - Sep 13, 2007
Destrehan wide receiver Damaris Johnson had a busy night last Friday.
The playmaker helped lead his team to a 20-7 win over St. James by racking up 158 yards receiving and one touchdown on nine catches. However, nights like those are commonplace for the senior, who accumulated 1,100 receiving yards last season while scoring 15 touchdowns.
"Last year is hard to top," Johnson said. "This year, I'm trying to do the same thing, but I'm trying to get in more work in my kick and punt return game to let colleges know that I can do that too."
Johnson took the field for the first time as a 7-year-old when he played football for Luling's recreational team, and, at that time, Johnson was gaining yardage on the ground as a standout running back. Thanks to the support of his cousin, Johnson was able to learn even more about the game, eventually gaining the skills he needed to compete at the high school level. Once reaching that plateau, Johnson was switched to receiver and immediately began to excel. He was starting at that spot as a sophomore and has grown into the position ever since.
"I just like getting the ball in my hands," Johnson said. "I feel like I've always had the skills, but I have improved mentally. Now, I can read the coverages and I know how to run my routes to get open."
Though he enjoys playing receiver, Johnson would be happy to play any position on the field. Because it's not just the position he loves, but the game of football.
"I just have a passion for it," Johnson said. "When I'm on the field, nothing else matters. I always want to win and I really can't accept losing."
Though he hates to lose, Johnson's most memorable experience came in a defeat to East St. John. In that game, he had 150 of his team's 160 receiving yards. He also picked up the lone touchdown.
However, Johnson soon hopes to replace that memory with a state title this season, and he knows that if the offense and defense continue to dominate, that's not too hard to imagine.
"We have one goal and that's to win state," he said. "Everybody is talking about how our offense is No. 1 in the state, but our defense is really good too. I just want to do the best I can to help my team win a championship."
Linebacker key to Hahnville success
Hahnville's Reggie Johnson may have gotten a late start on his football career, but the senior linebacker is more than making up for lost time.
Johnson has been a main component of a ruthless Tiger defense that has stifled opponents this season and has not allowed a single point in the first two games of the year. In last week's huge 41-0 beat down of Istrouma, Johnson recorded seven tackles and an interception.
Though those numbers are impressive, they are even more so when you consider the fact that Johnson didn't take part in organized football until he reached the eighth grade. But that doesn't mean that he wasn't getting in a lot of early practice.
"I just got interested in football by playing around in the neighborhood," Johnson said. "I just tried to go out and organize football games."
It wasn't long before Johnson decided to take his game to another level. He was a natural fit as a linebacker in his eighth grade year and has played in that spot ever since. After moving to high school, Johnson was penciled in as a starter his sophomore season. He has started ever since.
"My skill at being able to read an offense has gotten a lot better since I first started," Johnson said. "I know offenses, and I can tell plays just by looking at it."
While it's obvious that Johnson has loads of talent, he credits his recent top performance with the strategy of his head football coach, Lou Valdin.
"Coach Valdin always has a good game plan for us," he said. "If you just follow his game plan, it will come to you."
Not only does that game plan work out well for Johnson, but the coach's preparation seems to be paying off rather nicely for the entire Hahnville team.
"I love our defense," he said. "I want our defense to continue doing this good and I want our offense to get better every week."
Johnson will do everything he can to make sure that comes true.
"I'm just trying to be a team leader and I'm trying to lead my team to a championship," he said. "I want to make an impact on my team and I want to try to do my best."
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