Running backs Johnson, Jones 'a 1-2 punch' for Central

Running backs Johnson, Jones 'a 1-2 punch' for Central

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Running backs Johnson, Jones 'a 1-2 punch' for Central

Yellowjackets will host E'town on Friday in Class 3-A state semifinal

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Yellowjackets will host E'town on Friday in Class 3-A state semifinal

Central running back Corey Johnson breaks away from the defense to score 23 September 2016

Central High School senior running back Corey Johnson breaks away from the defense to score against Waggener on Sept. 23. Courier-Journal file photo

Corey Johnson and Chereioun Jones used to be rivals. Now, the two are teammates with a common goal: getting the Central High School football team back to the state championship game.

The dynamic senior running back duo has carried the backfield load this season for the Yellowjackets (8-5), who will host Elizabethtown (10-3) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Class 3-A state semifinals. The two have combined to rush for nearly 1,700 yards and 23 touchdowns.

“We’re like a 1-2 punch,” Johnson said.

With their different running styles the two have helped Central KO several foes this season. Last Friday they knocked Lexington Catholic out of the playoffs by combining for 216 rushing yards (Jones 111, Johnson 105) and two touchdowns (both by Johnson) in the Yellowjackets’ 30-7 triumph.

“They complement each other real well,” Central coach Ty Scroggins said. “One can catch a little bit better than the other one, one blocks a little bit better than the other, but they both run as hard as they possibly can.”

The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Johnson, who has run for 946 yards and 18 TDs, is a tailback who likes to use his speed and get outside the tackles. Meanwhile the 6-foot, 168-pound Jones, who has rushed for 753 yards and five TDs, is a fullback who prefers to run between the tackles while also relishing his role as a blocker.

“He makes terrific blocks and I’m able to execute and make plays off of it and vice versa,” Johnson said. “(And) we’re good teammates. We look out for each other.”

Indeed, the two are friends who go back awhile.

“We used to play against each other in little league,” Jones said. “He played for the Packers, I played for the Rams. We were both tailbacks.”

Added Johnson: “It was always a big matchup.”

In high school, however, the two have had different roles.

Last year Johnson was the team’s top rusher, gaining 558 yards and running for nine TDs on 90 carries, while Jones only had 69 yards on 16 total carries.

“Chereioun played last year, but he wasn’t in the rotation,” Scroggins said. “He was probably the third-string running back. He didn’t get a lot of reps. But this year he’s come back and he’s out for revenge. He comes out and he does the things he needs to do.”

Foremost among his duties is blocking for Johnson. It’s something Jones, a former middle linebacker in middle school, takes a lot of pride in.

“Chereioun blocks for him, and it’s his buddy,” Scroggins said. “He knows, ‘I’m going to get my buddy some yards.’”

This year, though, Jones has been asked to do more than just open holes. When Johnson got hurt during the middle of the season, Jones stepped in for him.

“Chereioun had to play tailback for us, which helped him out tremendously,” Scroggins said. “It helped his vision a whole lot more.”

It’s also helped the five-time state champion Yellowjackets, who were 3-A runners-up in 2014, get back to the state semifinals.

“Now that Corey’s healthy, now we’ve got two tailbacks in the backfield,” Scroggins said.

CLASS 3-A FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS

Friday’s semifinals

* Elizabethtown (10-3) at Central (8-5), 7:30 p.m.

* Belfry (12-1) at Corbin (12-1), 7:30 p.m.

State final

* Saturday, Dec. 3, 2 p.m. EST in Bowling Green

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