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Johnson, Rattlers have high expectations for running game

San Marcos Football
Saturday, August 18, 2018

Senior safety Therrance Soto was in the right place at the right time on Saturday.

Senior running back Jamon Johnson had taken the ball, burst through the hole, cut to the left and turned up the field nearly untouched. Soto tracked him down from the secondary and was now the only obstacle between Johnson and a highway to the endzone. All Soto had to do was make a tackle.

It didn’t matter. Johnson lowered his shoulder and plowed straight into Soto, knocking him down before hitting the gas and accelerating down the field.

“Jamon on offense, it’s like he’s got a (commercial driver’s license) out there because he’s trucking everybody,” head coach Mark Soto said.

It was the first day in full pads for the Rattlers, a “thrill” for Johnson. The tailback likes to use the opportunity to take - or give - game-like hits. The more realistic, the more prepared he’ll be for the season.

This year, Johnson is preparing for a monster season.

“I set my goal back in January that I wanted to get 2,000 yards,” Johnson said. “I’ve gotten maybe 1,500, 1,600 (total yards) my junior year. But I’ve never gotten 2,000. Like even with my all-purpose, the most I got was like 1,800. If I can rush for over 2,000, I mean, I’ll be an all-state running back.”

Two thousand yards is tough to get to. For instance, San Marcos combined to rush for 2,113 in 2016, Johnson’s first year on varsity. It’s even tougher when you can’t play. Johnson broke his collarbone earlier this year and missed most of spring training.

Still, the running back is confident. As soon as his shoulder healed, he went back to work getting ready for training camp. He even started making tweaks to his diet to give himself an extra edge.

“I remember last year, I would always eat pizza and stuff,” Johnson said. “Just stuff that would hurt me in the game when it’s crucial to me. You know when I couldn’t go anymore because I drank that soda. So this year I’ve been focusing on drinking a lot of water and being hydrated.”

His coaches noticed the difference.

“Some of these kids, you can tell that they’ve just been working out all summer,” defensive coordinator Gilbert Rodriguez said. “(Johnson’s) in good shape, looks good.”

The Rattlers want to run the ball early and often this season, and Johnson will have a major role in that. Johnson’s carries went down between his sophomore and junior seasons from 199 to 137 with the emergence of former quarterback Prudy Calderon. However, Johnson’s yards-per-carry average increased from 6.7 to 9.8, and he finished the year with a career-high 1,344 yards.

With Calderon gone, there’s now an extra 176 carries up for grabs. Maybe more.

“That’s the identity that’s starting to come out … offensively, we’re able to run and able to establish the line of scrimmage,” Mark Soto said. “They like the punishing offense. They like to ground and pound and tote the rock.”

If Johnson gained 9.8 yards on 199 carries last season, he would have had 1,950 yards. That’s still 50 short of senior’s goal for this year. Nothing is guaranteed, and Johnson knows he’ll need to do more than ever to make it to 2,000.

Bulldozing defenders is a step in the right direction.

“I was out the whole spring ball. I couldn’t hit or do nothing,” Johnson said. “So for me to bounce back from that, and you know, I didn’t lose any speed or strength or anything, it’s like ‘Wow!’ It felt good. It felt good to hit somebody, finally.”

San Marcos Record

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