ECHS’ dual threat

Published 2:37 pm Saturday, July 14, 2012

Chris Johnson drops back in the pocket, preparing to throw a deep pass as defenders apply pressure.

When the subject of dual-threat quarterbacks in college or pro football is broached, some names that may come to mind are Cam Newton, Michael Vick, Robert Griffin III, Vince Young and even Tim Tebow.

But on the local high school level, the Escambia County High School Blue Devils can put junior quarterback Chris Johnson on the list.

Johnson, who is entering his third season at seeing action behind center for the Blue Devils and his second year as a starter, helped guide the Blue Devils to a 5-5 season last year. While going 5-5 last year under second-year head coach Mark Heaton, Johnson and the Blue Devils missed the playoffs—one year after going 9-4 in Heaton’s first year in 2010. In 2010, the Blue Devils went the to quarterfinals of the class 4A playoffs and saw wins over T.R. Miller in the season opener and a second round win over a ranked Jackson team.

Johnson scrambles away from Bay Minette defenders.

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In 2012, under first-year head coach Lev Holly, Johnson hopes to lead the Blue Devils back into postseason play.

“Things are going fine for us this summer under our new coach, coach Holly,” Johnson said. “We are working out and going over some things and just making sure we are ready when the season starts in a few weeks.”

While Holly will be making his debut this season as the Blue Devils new head coach, Johnson said things are similar to the way they were under coach Heaton.

“It is almost the same system as we had under coach Heaton,” Johnson said. “We are just trying to get adapted to the way coach Holly has set things up, but it is pretty much the same.”

Holly himself said he is excited about the opportunities Johnson’s talents can bring to his new team.

“Chris is one of those guys that’s been real consistent,” Holly said. “He’s really bought into what we’re doing.”

Holly said, while Johnson’s physical talents are impressive, it is his work ethic, leadership and game management skills that will be his biggest assets on the field.

“He’s going to be a dual-threat guy,” Holly said. “He can make plays with his legs and I’ve been impressed that he can throw it, but his biggest asset is that he can manage the game for us. He has a great understanding of what we’re doing scheme wise and he has his goals and ambitions. He’s one of those players that I think will have a chance to play at the next level.”

As one of few quarterbacks with two very different ways of getting the ball down the field at his command, is there a specific dual threat quarterback Johnson models his play after?

“I really like Cam Newton and the way he plays and runs offenses as a quarterback,” Johnson said. “I try to play the best I can like Cam Newton.”

Johnson, who said he has talked to Alabama and Auburn, as well as a couple of schools in Birmingham and Louisiana Lafayette, said he just hopes himself and the team have a great year in 2012.

“One of my goals is to not throw a lot of interceptions this year,” he said. “Also, I want to make it deep in the playoffs this year. I am just excited and ready to go.”

“He’s the leader of the offense,” Holly said. “As a former quarterback myself that played in some big games, I know how important it is to be the calmest player on the field and have the most composure, and a little swagger to you. Those are some of the aspects Chris brings to the table.”

Johnson will get his chance to show off his dual-threat capabilities when he and the Blue Devils open up their inaugural 2012 season under their first-year head coach Friday, Aug. 31 in a rivalry game against T.R. Miller.

The Blue Devils are scheduled to debut the 2012 football team beginning on Friday, Aug. 24 with a jamboree game on the road at Saraland High School a week prior to the season opener with Miller.

Thre rest of the ECHS 2012 schedule is as follows:

•Sept. 7, at Clarke County.

•Sept. 14, Wilcox-Central.

•Sept. 21, at UMS- Wright.

•Sept. 28, Faith Academy.

•Oct. 5, at Thomasville.

•Oct. 12, Monroe County (Homecoming).

•Oct. 19, at Hillcrest-Evergreen.

•Oct. 26, Andalusia (Senior Night).

•Nov. 2 , at Baldwin County.