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Villa Park

All-area football MVP: Johnson goes from freshman B to sensational senior

VILLA PARK – Quarterback is the most mentally demanding position in football.

Not only do the passers need to know their own responsibility, they need to know everyone's responsibility every play. With that in mind, Brian Johnson's staggering statistical season at Willowbrook this fall is unusual because the senior is still somewhat new to the sport.

Johnson began his football career as a freshman in high school and played on the freshman B team for the Warriors. Two years later he had elevated himself to varsity starter. This fall he passed for 3,291 yards and 31 touchdowns in 10 games.

This season, Johnson was honorable mention all-state in Class 7A, the West Suburban Gold MVP and the Suburban Life all-area MVP.

"When we did things right, when we were on, with a guy like that back there it creates problems," Willowbrook coach Nick Hildreth said. "At the high school level defending the pass is hard enough when you've got multiple wideouts, and he can make reads and do all those things."

Johnson didn't put up the numbers by himself. He had talented wide receivers Hayden Adams and Devin Childress, who are both 6-foot-2 and reached double digit touchdowns on the season, and quick running back Jeremy Barnes, who had 1,912 rushing and receiving yards combined.

That trio did most of the damage when Johnson threw for a state-record 675 yards against Lyons Township in Week 2. The Warriors won a wild game 62-49.

"Obviously for us, LT the second week was a great game," Johnson said. "It wasn't just me. A lot of the guys after the catch were breaking tackles and making runs."

Despite all of his success this fall, as of last week Johnson said he didn't yet have any offers from colleges, though he has received interest from various programs.

Hildreth believes his quarterback can play as high as the FCS level in college.

"I've been taking calls a bunch lately," Hildreth said. "He's going to be a steal for somebody somewhere."

The best argument for Johnson's college future is that he is still is learning the game while playing the most cerebral position.

"His ceiling is so incredibly high moving forward," Hildreth said. "He's not done growing. He's not shaving yet. There is room for him to grow physically and mentally he's just getting better everyday as far as being around the game."

Since the season ended Johnson has continued to work out. He is focusing on improving his footwork and staying in shape during the winter before playing baseball in the spring.

He plans to go on college visits throughout December, some even with his high school teammates.

"I'm hoping by January or late February that I will know where I'm going," Johnson said. "I'm looking forward to the higher competition level and getting new teammates."

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