As a lockdown cornerback, coming off a game in which he intercepted two passes, sophomore Amir Johnson spearheads a South Brunswick High School defense which has provided the Vikings with excellent field position.
Seven of the opportunistic offense’s 10 touchdown drives this season began inside the opposition’s territory.
“I think that certainly has been a big factor in the way that we’ve been able to put some points on the board,” said South Brunswick coach Joe Goerge, whose team, ranked No. 3 in the Home News Tribune Top 10, is averaging 34.5 points per game.
Still, the Vikings, who saw a 25-point lead evaporate, needed a goal-line stand in the closing seconds to preserve a 35-32 victory over Monroe last weekend (the Falcons’ hurry-up offense ran nearly 90 plays from scrimmage).
Conversely, fourth-ranked Old Bridge, which South Brunswick will host tonight in the Home News Tribune Football Game of the Week, needed a touchdown pass in the closing seconds for a 21-20 victory over Piscataway last weekend.
South Brunswick, the defending Greater Middlesex Conference Red Division champion, has won the last two meetings between the schools, scoring at least 45 points in each victory.
Both schools run similar option offenses with the biggest difference appearing to be South Brunswick’s ability to beat defenses with the long pass.
South Brunswick quarterback T.J. Perkowski had scoring strikes of 94 and 65 yards last weekend. Old Bridge signal caller Vin Gargano has passed for just 71 yards on the year, including last weekend’s game-winning 21-yard scoring strike to Aaron Ford.
Should Gargano take to the air tonight, he will do so against a secondary that features Johnson and T.J. Taylor, one of the best safeties in the state who has already committed to Rutgers University.
“Amir has been a picture of consistency in the secondary our first two games,” Goerge said. “He’s always covering the other team’s best receiver. It’s one thing making interceptions (against Monroe), but he returned (them) and put us in great field position.”
Perkowski and Dion Hooper converted those interceptions into touchdowns, scoring on runs of 23 and 8 yards, respectively, to help the Vikings build a 28-3 lead.
South Brunswick lost end Rashaan Baker, the team’s lone returning starter on the defensive line, to a bruised knee against Monroe, but the junior has been cleared to play tonight.
Baker’s ability to pass rush – should Old Bridge be forced to throw – will certainly assist Johnson and the rest of the secondary.
“The thing I like best about (Johnson) is he never says a word,” Goerge said. “He’s just that guy who shows up for work. He gives you the same effort every day. It’s great that we have him for this year and two more.”