'Horns' Johnson makes his mark in weight room

By Matt Hill

STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   MOUNTAIN CITY -- Most high school athletes work hard in their careers, but then there's the story of Johnson County's Adam Johnson.
   Johnson, a football and basketball player for the Longhorns, is very well known at the school for his dedication in the weight room.
   According to Johnson, he feels it's necessary for success.
   "To be successful you have got to have some size and you've got to do the powerlifting," Johnson said. "From the Lord I've been blessed with good abilities and my parents with their support, I've been able to maintain what I have and be dedicated in the weight room.
   "And you have to have the self-motivation. You can't just have somebody keep pushing you all the time, because what if they're not there? Through hard work, it's paid off. I got started powerlifting in ninth grade with this guy in Boone (N.C.). I've worked from there by myself."
   Now in his senior year, Johnson's bench press numbers are getting pretty impressive.
   "At the end of July and the start of August, I was at 305 (pounds)," he said. "Right now I've lost a little bit because of football, but I still lifted during football season, just not like I usually do. But now I'm getting back into it playing basketball."
   Johnson, the quarterback on the football team the last two years, used his strength as an advantage during football season. Johnson was one of the few players around who could turn quarterback sacks into big gains just by using his big frame.
   As for the football season itself, the Longhorns had their share of bad luck. Johnson County finished 1-9, with three of those losses being by one point.
   Johnson thought players being injured played a big factor, and that made it tough for him to run the show on offense.
   "It's hard to run an offense when you have some key injuries," Johnson said. "The offense runs on consistency and timing, and when you have certain players out each week or one week, it's hard to keep everything right. We just had some mental mistakes, and I haven't done things I should have. We all have done things wrong, but it's hard to run an offense consistently when you've got players out.
   There was even one game where Johnson had to switch over and play tailback. Against Unicoi County, Johnson rushed for 135 yards in the Longhorns' only win of the season.
   The Longhorns needed him to do that due to injuries, and Johnson was more than willing to sacrifice for the team.
   "I'm willing to do what it takes for my team," Johnson said. "At that point there was not a tailback stepping up to fill that position. The game before that, the coaches were impressed with how I ran the ball. He mentioned that at the beginning of the week, and I told him I would do whatever it took to help the team.
   "It was a good game. It felt good to actually be able to contribute to the team and do what you can, and actually get a win for the team. The line did well that game. Everybody came together that game, and that's the one game where we had nobody injured. Everything worked well for us."
   Another special game for Johnson was the season finale against Sullivan South. In that contest, Johnson had his only 100-yard passing game of the season.
   "(The passing game) had been struggling throughout the year," Johnson said. "I've not made some of the reads I should have or maybe we've dropped some balls. But everything was working well that night. Each receiver ran their routes right, and gave me an opportunity to do what I can. The line gave me a little bit of time, and I just took over from there."
   Johnson will most likely be playing college football in the future. With his speed and strength, several area schools are taking an interest in him.
   "I'm hopefully going to get a scholarship," Johnson said. "I've received letters from Appalachian State, Carson-Newman, Emory and Henry, Alabama and Harvard. I'm not really sure right now. I've turned in my last films to them this week. After that, I'll have to see what they think from there. Hopefully, I'll get a a scholarship and be successful at the college level.
   But football is the last thing on Johnson's mind right now. It's basketball season, and Johnson is giving it another try after a few years away from the sport.
   Johnson is ready to be a force inside for the Longhorns.
   "Basketball is something I've done all through middle school and elementary," Johnson said. "Basketball is something that I actually like doing, and I just really haven't done it throughout high school until this year. I'm going to do what I can.
   "Offensively, it's a challenge. I've always been known for rebounding and defense, but this year I've got to contribute on the offensive end, also. But I'm going to start working now, and see what I can do.
   One reason Johnson wanted to come out was to be on the same team with his best friend, Matt Cornett. Playing with Cornett, the Watauga Conference's leading returning scorer, is something Johnson cherishes.
   "We've been best friends since I've been little," Johnson said. "We've always done things together. This is my last go around, and I'm going to have fun playing basketball with my friends. Hopefully, I'll have a good year.
   Overall, Johnson feels pretty happy about his athletic career at Johnson County High School.
   Johnson thinks he has learned a lot about life by being involved in athletics.
   "I've gained more than just football out of it," Johnson said. "Football has let me grow as a Christian, and maybe has allowed me to help some other guys out. I've had some good support from family and friends. It's just been a good career here."