By Mark Maxwell
One local quarterback threw for more yards than Peyton Manning last week. And no, it wasn’t Jay Cutler.
Willowbrook quarterback Brian Johnson completed 40-of-52 passes for 675 yards and seven touchdowns last Friday, as the Warriors lit up Lyons –-and the scoreboard-- in a 62-49 triumph.
This performance occurred less than 24 hours after Manning kicked off the NFL season with a dominant showing against the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Manning and Johnson both threw for seven touchdowns, but Johnson accumulated 213 more yards than Manning did. Johnson shattered an Illinois state record for passing yards in a game.
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“It’s a great feeling," Johnson said after being named Allstate Athlete of the Week. "Throwing for that many yards is obviously something special but you can’t do it without your offensive linemen. They were guys who really busted it for us out there. I give all the credit to them and our receivers for making great cuts and getting yards after the catch.”
Warriors coach Nick Hildreth spoke very highly of his junior quarterback.
Johnson just began playing football two seasons ago, and yet he already understands the importance of relying on his teammates.
“He's a humble kid. He's the first one to give credit to everybody else and he's got a great head on his shoulders,” Hildreth said. “He understands, as every quarterback should, it's my guys up front that have to take care of me in order to be successful. That's the type of kid he is. At the same time, that was a game that was close until the end. We need every last yard. We couldn't afford to give any of those away.”
Johnson was so excited about the victory, he didn’t realize he had set a state record.
“After the game, someone told me. I was really surprised because obviously (putting up 62 points) you’re doing something right. It felt like we just had a high pace. That’s what happens when you execute like we did.”
Johnson’s record was previously held by Wes Lunt, who became the first true freshman to ever start at quarterback for the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the 2012 season. Lunt has since transferred to Illinois.
Hildreth believes that his quarterback has a bright college future ahead of him.
“He wants to play college football. Somebody is going to get a steal,” he said. “6'3, 190 pounds, athletic, strong arm, incredibly smart, incredibly down-to-earth, better than anyone I’ve seen as far as reading coverages and making adjustments and doing all of those things while truly having a piece in our gameplan. A lot of times, at the high school level, you’re not going to trust your quarterback to have input into what we’re doing week-to-week and he’s a kid that’s able to do that.”