ASHWAUBENON – Mark Jonas experienced a bit of déjà vu Thursday.
The Ashwaubenon football coach was at the school’s fieldhouse watching one of his quarterbacks sign his name on a national letter of intent with a college program.
It marked the third straight year Jonas has seen the scenario play out.
“Three quarterbacks in a row with scholarships?” Jonas said. “It’s truly incredible.”
Ryan Johnson became the latest in a line of Ashwaubenon quarterbacks to earn one.
The 6-foot-4, 185-pounder parlayed his one year as the varsity starter for the Jaguars into an opportunity at Northern Michigan University, which is an NCAA Division II school located in Marquette, Mich.
Johnson follows in the footsteps — and strong right arms — of James Morgan (Bowling Green) and Will Ark (Michigan Tech) in doing so.
“I’m glad I could keep the streak alive,” said Johnson, who is receiving a partial athletic scholarship from Northern Michigan. “It’s been a lot of fun. The coaches have done so much to prepare all of us.”
Johnson completed 63.1 percent (169-for-268) of his passes on the way to leading the Fox River Classic Conference with 2,046 yards and 20 touchdowns while guiding the Jaguars to the WIAA playoffs for a 19th straight year.
“I learned a lot from James,” Johnson said. “I learned a lot from Ark. They’re both great guys. Learning from the both of them was an honor.”
Jonas said having three quarterbacks sign letters of intent in three consecutive years wouldn’t have happened without a strong supporting cast of players around them. He also credits his coaching staff’s ability to prepare players to have success at the next level.
“One of the cool things for us is hearing kids like a James Morgan come back and saying, ‘The stuff we have in our playbook is really similar to what we had at Ashwaubenon,’” Jonas said of Morgan, who made seven starts at Bowling Green as a redshirt freshman last year.
“These kids put in a lot of time. This just didn’t happen overnight for any of the three. They’re obviously all very good athletes. But it takes a lot of time to get very good at the quarterback position because there is just so much being thrown at you so fast and all three of them process that information very, very well.”
Johnson made a visit to Northern Michigan last weekend. He said the Wildcats will be installing a pro-style system under new coach Kyle Nystrom.
In addition to playing home games in the controlled climate of the Superior Dome, Johnson is looking forward to the opportunity of possibly going head-to-head against Ark when Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech meet in the Miner’s Cup.
“It’s exciting,” Johnson said. “I’ve learned a lot from him, so I imagine you’ll see a similar playing style from the both of us. I think playing against him will be a lot of fun.”
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