JOHNSTOWN – Johnstown has had several highlight-reel touchdown runs in recent years, given the Johnnies’ long line of stellar tailbacks and quarterbacks.
Cody Workman’s 61-yarder in the Division IV regional semifinals against St. Clairsville takes a back seat to few of them.
The 6-foot, 180-pound junior quarterback rolled right to pass, and then, finding nothing available, cut back to his left. There appeared to be nothing there. But he broke three or four tackles, nearly stumbling down after the last one. Somehow he kept his feet, turned on the jets, eluded a tackler who appeared to have an angle and completed a 61-yard touchdown run.
Workman ran for 181 yards and three touchdowns in the 42-38 win that sent the unbeaten Johnnies to another regional final, a performance mirrored by those throughout a memorable season. More than doubling the 766 yards he ran for as a sophomore, Workman is The Advocate Offensive Player of the Year.
Going against defenses loading the box to stop Johnstown’s vaunted run game, Workman was the turbo-charger in an engine fueled by an offensive line led by 320-pound tackle Jeff Nogaj and tailbacks Andrew Sayer, Justin Franklin and Hayden Bullard mixed in as key components.
“It was the decision-making that comes with another year of experience, getting more and more command of the offense,” coach Mike Carter said.
Workman came into the season well-prepared, physically and mentally.
“I worked on my footwork, getting faster and improving my reads,” he said. “It all started coming more natural to me this year. But I still work on my lifting and everything else, every day.”
Senior wingback Trent Coe said it’s no accident Workman is successful as he is, even with defenses geared to stop him. In all of Johnstown’s big wins in 2015, Workman made a big play, or plays, that helped turn the tide in the Johnnies’ favor.
Workman had a 53-yard touchdown run in a 14-10 win against Chillicothe in Week 1, a 53-yard touchdown run to put away Buckeye Valley in a 13-3 win in Week 3 and led a perfect two-minute drill to beat Watkins Memorial in Week 4.
“First of all, he’s one of the toughest players I’ve ever known,” Coe said. “He has the desire to make a play every time. Given a chance, he has the will, he has the talent to make it. He’s a hard worker, and he’s always fearless and ready.”
In a pivotal 24-7 win against Newark Catholic, Workman departed the game in the second quarter with a knee injury. He returned to wreak havoc in the second half with a game-clinching touchdown run, the second of his two that night.
“Their quarterback is obviously very special,” NC coach Bill Franks said after the game.
When given the chance to throw, Workman has also been an effective passer. And what about his punting? He averaged 46 yards per punt during the regular season. Against St. Clairsville, he nailed a 52-yarder that helped flip the field.
Workman was the first returning starting quarterback for Johnstown since 2011’s state semifinal run with Matt Smith. Bad news for the Licking County League is he’s poised to become an even more rare three-year starter at the position for the Johnnies.
- 2014 Cody Farley, Johnstown
- 2013 Grant Russell, Newark
- 2012 David Fraley, Granville
- 2011 Ross Franklin, Johnstown