By Matt Smith, Delaware County Times
September 04, 2009
“It was tough because of all the talk around school,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t how we wanted to start the season.”
The Tigers dropped their first five games and were sitting in last place in the Central League. Johnson, the team’s starting quarterback, probably felt like the butt of jokes around school.
Despite the early-season struggles, Johnson and his teammates never lost faith. Even though they owned an 0-5 record, the Tigers remained calm. They were confident that they would turn things around.
By winning six of their last seven contests, the Tigers finished the year on a high note. During that run, Marple Newtown pulled out some quality victories over winning teams such as Central League rival Upper Darby and Academy Park. The Tigers open the 2009 campaign against Archbishop Ryan of the Philadelphia Catholic League at 7 tonight at Harry R. Harvey Field.
“Even when stuff wasn’t going good for us, we weren’t going to give up,” Johnson said. “That was our attitude. We had a chance to end the season with a couple wins and we were able to do that.”
Johnson returns for his senior season calling the shots on offense. He believes that ending last year on a hot streak will have a carry-over effect in 2009.
“It think we’ll have a really good team and a good season,” said Johnson, who threw for 567 yards and five touchdowns as a junior. “We have a lot of people back from last year and we’re ready to get going.”
Tigers coach Ray Gionta believes Johnson is the perfect fit to run an offense that features a good balance of rushing and passing.
“I really like Kevin,” Gionta said. “He’s a kid who has really progressed here. On the field, he has good leadership qualities. We expect a lot from him this year and I think he’s the kind of quarterback who can run any type of offense.”
Johnson and the Tigers begin the season tonight at home against Archbishop Ryan, a team that didn’t win a game last year.
“We have to take them serious,” he said. “We have to treat every game like the same. If we do that, we’ll be OK.”
Johnson doesn’t set personal goals. He’s all about the team.
All he wants is a chance to compete in the Central League and, hopefully, play in the District One tournament before he graduates next spring.
In order to accomplish those goals, the Tigers need to set the tone with a win tonight.
And maybe Monday mornings won’t be so bad anymore.
“Getting us to the playoffs would be great, but we have to get some wins,” Johnson said. “I think we’ll be competitive enough. There’s a lot of experience on this team.”