Achieving gridiron gold

Fame doesn’t come without hard work, and according to football Coach Jack Johnson, it can’t come if you work alone.

“It’s not a one-man sport. It’s about our system,” Johnson said.

Recently, Johnson won the National High School Association Coach of the Year award, allowing him to travel to Des Moines, Iowa, over the summer.

Johnson has coached for 47 years at various locations, such as The University of Northern Colorado.

Football isn’t Johnson’s only sport. He also enjoys the game of baseball. Johnson played baseball in his home state, at the University of Wyoming. He is a Red Sox fan due to the fact one of his former players, John Leister, was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the third round in the 1984 amateur draft. Leister pitched for the Red Sox from 1987 to 1990, never capturing a major league win.

Johnson decided as a sophomore in high school that he would be a football coach. What he would never know is that entering this year he would own a 333-107 record at CMR, and an overall record of 355-114. That is a .757 winning all-time percentage, a prestigious record.

Now, after 47 years of coaching, the question is how much more? Johnson has already led CMR to 19 state title games and won 13 of them.

“I’m going to coach as long as I enjoy it. It’s a good group of kids,” Johnson said.

There is something special about playing in 19 championship games in a span of 40 years, winning 13 of them, he said. That’s pretty special, almost Yankee-like. In Johnson’s mouth, the taste of championship No. 13 is just as sweet as the taste of No. 1. He says the hard work makes everything worthwhile.

In Johnson’s time outside of football, he enjoys spending time in the outdoors and at his friend’s ranch. Just last summer he was out on a ranch branding cattle. Johnson rides his horses along with his wife frequently, as he spends his precious spare time enjoying the outdoors.

“It’s a good place for us,” he said.

Johnson’s time at CMR will certainly never be forgotten, for him or for students and staff. Forty-one years may seem like a long while for most of us, but to him it’s merely the blink of an eye.

“It went too fast,” he said.

Johnson’s reputation as a coach, a mentor, and a person is just a mirror of the same values and traditions that CMR has come to represent. Teacher Brian Greenwell never played for Johnson, but he knows what Johnson means to CMR. Greenwell is a linebacker and defensive-end coach under Johnson.

“I never played for him, but I know he means a lot to this organization,” he said.

Greenwell said that Johnson winning an award of this caliber is a great honor; it recognizes the program and  exemplifies how good he really is.

“I’ve learned a lot about football since coming here, and I thought I knew a lot about football,” Greenwell said.

He describes Johnson as a leader who uses extreme organization to be successful. Everything has its place in the whole system.

“It’s like clockwork,” Greenwell said.

There is only one word he is able to describe Johnson with: legendary.

Along with Greenwell, junior Kail Williams is one of the many involved with football who have been lucky enough to share time with Johnson during his football tenure.

This is Williams’ third year playing football under Johnson.

Williams said he remembers the first time he met Johnson at the Big Sky Football Camp the summer of his eighth grade year.

“He already knew who I was; he does his homework. It was a little scary being in the presence of such a prestigious guy,” he said.

Williams describes Johnson as an extremely intelligent coach, but also personable and approachable.

“He’s the best coach I’ve ever played for,” he said.

He said Johnson is a guy one can go up and talk to about anything, not just football. He will crack a joke every now and then, but at the same time he remains as serious and dedicated a coach as they come, Williams said.

“If you’re not doing your job, he will find somebody that will. He’s an intense guy,” Williams said.

“It’s an honor to play for him. The next coach will have size 100 shoes to fill.”