STUARTS DRAFT – Like father, like son.
In the middle 1990s, Brock Johnson was a star running back for the Stuarts Draft Cougars.
Today his son, Izzy, is following in his father’s footsteps at the same position.
Izzy might not break his father’s records of 6,669 yards for a career, 2,795 for a season or 401 for a single game set in 1996, but the jury is still out on some of those.
“It definitely runs in the family,” Izzy said of his family’s accomplishments.
Friday, when the Cougars host Madison County in the second round of the post-season Group 2A regional playoffs, Johnson hopes to add to his totals where a team win is far more significant than any individual records.
But football is only a part of the athletic accomplishments for the Cougar senior. He is also talented in the classroom. And for his achievements, Stuarts Draft has selected him as its fall nominee for the City/County Student-Athlete of the Year Award, sponsored by The News Leader.
Johnson has played five different sports for the Cougars, and will have accumulated three letters each in football, indoor track and outdoor track by the time he graduates. He also played jayvee baseball as a freshman and sophomore and also jayvee basketball as a sophomore.
It’s not surprising that football is his favorite by far.
“I just love the game,” he said. “And I like the teammates around me. I’ve loved it since I was little. I remember playing with my cousins in the living room when I was around five years old. My dad was good at it and he set some records here at Stuarts Draft as a running back.”
Johnson has always been a running back, from the time he played for the Stuarts Draft midgets in the Augusta County Quarterback League until now. After the quarterback club it was two years of jayvee football and then to the Cougar varsity as a sophomore.
The 175-pound, 5-foot-71/2 senior attributes his success to his family and hard work.
“My mom and dad, cousins and coaches have driven me to be the kind of person I am and the person in school that I am,” he said. “On the field, my teammates drive each other to be great and we work hard in the off-season, and it shows on the field.
“We’ve been together for a long time, and we work hard as a family of brothers playing the game together. As midgets we won the Super Bowl and our second year of jayvees, we were undefeated. That was the same team as now.”
Johnson feels the present Cougar team which is undefeated at 11-0 is on a mission.
“We take each game one at a time,” he said. “We don’t put any game above it. If we execute and play hard, we come out with a win.”
Certainly, the Cougars’ biggest win of the season was two weeks ago in the regular season finale when two 9-0 squads met and the Cougars defeated Riverheads in overtime.
“We played our hearts out,” Johnson said. “We did have motivation. No one believed we would win.”
For his efforts, Johnson has been all-district for the last two years. Other superlatives are yet to come.
When football ends and indoor track begins, Johnson can be found running the 55 and 4×200 relay inside. Transitioning to the outdoor season, his events are the 100, 200, long jump and 4×100 relay.
Of all the events, the 4×100 relay is his favorite.
“It’s the biggest event at the track meet,” he said. “It’s so fast. Last year, I ran the second leg, and I get zoned in. All the runners are on the football team. We went to the state last year, but our third runner got a hamstring, and we didn’t medal.”
Last year, Johnson focused on the runs. This season, he plans to devote more time to the long jump.
When he played jayvee baseball, it usually was as an outfielder. But baseball and track overlapped and he went with track, a sport in which he felt he was better.
The same was the case for basketball, a sport he had played in since the sixth grade. “I tried out and made the jayvees as a sophomore,” he said. “But again I liked track better.”
Academically, Johnson is in the top quartile of his senior class with a grade point average around a 3.5.
“My favorite subject is history, particularly the history of wars,” he said. “In it, we learn how we got here and how things came to be.”
His toughest courses this year are English, government and Spanish 3.
Despite a rigorous athletic and academic menu, the Cougar senior still has time for extracurricular activities. He is in the SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) Club and Future Business Leaders of America. He was the homecoming king, and also is in the chorus.
“I like to sing,” he said. “I got that from my mom. She’s always singing, and she’s really good. I started singing with her. On game days, I listen to rap rock and hip-hop.”
Outside school, Johnson is a part of Young Life. He has helped coach the Stuarts Draft juniors in the quarterback club football program, and on mainly weekends, he has a job at J.C. Penney at the Staunton Mall.
In the future, Johnson wants to play college football. James Madison University, Old Dominion, the University of Richmond, West Virginia and Shepherd have shown interest. “They are my top schools,” he said. “Eventually, I would like to coach football and be a physical education teacher.”
“What a true character he has,” noted Stuarts Draft athletic director Steve Hartley. “It’s second to none. He’s a hard worker and I have never seen him in a bad mood. He’s one of those guys you love to see walking up and down the halls.”
“I’m always in a good mood,” Johnson added. “Not much brings me down. It makes for a good day for me and everybody around me.”
Each public school from Augusta County, Staunton and Waynesboro selects fall, winter and spring nominees, then selects one finalist. One finalist will also be chosen from nominees made by area private schools.
Next: Kaylee Mills, Buffalo Gap