For Anthony Johnson, making his mark on the football pitch doesn’t have to involve putting the ball in the net himself.
The elder was more than happy to play defense and distribute the ball to his forwards and midfielders during his career at Columbus North, and this year it has led to a host of wins for the Bull Dogs. They went 19-2-1 and won the Indiana Conference, Section, Regional and Semistate titles en route to a second-place Class 3A finish.
“Scoring isn’t what it’s about for me,” said Johnson, this year’s The Republic Boys Soccer Player of the Year. “I find myself being much more of a team player. As long as the team wins, that’s fine with me. I don’t need to score.”
Johnson had one goal and was second on the team with 11 assists this season. He led a defense that allowed just 12 goals in 22 games from his central defensive midfield position.
“He created plenty of goalscoring opportunities with his exceptional defensive presence and attacking qualities,” North coach Andy Glover said. “With the team ahead of him, he was able to find the right players at the right times to help their job of getting assists and goals.”
Having played as a centre-back growing up in club football and as an attacking midfielder as a rookie at North, Johnson has been a mainstay as a defensive midfielder for the past three years.
“It kind of allows me to dictate a lot of what happens on the field,” Johnson said. “I have my backline behind me, so I know I always have help no matter what I’m doing. I have my attackers in front of me, and that allows me to see the rest of the game and know what they want to do.
Glover estimates that in 22 games this season, Johnson has been off the field for a total of just about 2 minutes.
“His level of commitment to the team over the past three seasons has been a monumental part of our success over that time,” Glover said. “Anthony brought a wealth of leadership and experience both on and off the pitch to our team. That leadership permeated the team in a very positive way. only positively influenced the team in terms of leadership and performance.
Johnson’s production on the field has not gone unnoticed. He was the only Bull Dog to earn all-district honors last season, and this year he was selected to the first-team All-State by the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association.
“It was huge for me,” Johnson said. “I didn’t even expect to make All-District last year. I didn’t even know what it was until I found out I had done it. To get an honorable mention (last year) was phenomenal, and to go from honorable mention to the highest is just amazing to me. I was really proud of it. »
Johnson’s father, also named Anthony, was a football player and wrestler at North and the University of Indianapolis. Young Johnson started playing football when he was 3 years old.
“I grew up around that the most,” he said. “I think football is everyone’s starting point in terms of sports. I stuck with that. A lot of my friends also played football. A lot of guys from the neighborhood, that’s what we got. do.
Young Johnson also played basketball in sixth grade and wrestled in second grade. He trained with the wrestling team last year but did not compete, and is set to do the same this year.
“It takes a different athlete to be a wrestler,” he said. “The conditioning and what it takes physically and mentally to be in that room every day of the week, it’s intense. It’s a very tough sport and I’m happy to be a part of it.
Johnson hopes to continue his soccer career at the college level. He has made academic visits to Hannover, Butler, UIndy and Indiana University, but so far he has only spoken to Hannover and DePauw about playing football.
Whether or not this is the end of his competitive football career, Johnson is happy with how it turned out.
“From where I started to where I finished, I’m more than satisfied,” Johnson said. “Going from one of the worst seasons in school history from my freshman year to second in the state in three years is something that should not be overlooked, and I’m happy to be a part of it. I’m glad we were able to rebuild what North football is all about.
The Republic All-Area Boys Soccer Team:
Anthony Johnson, North Columbus: The elder scored one goal and 11 assists and led a defense that allowed just 12 goals in 22 games.
Aidan Whitley, North Columbus: The junior has registered five goals and seven assists in just 10 games.
Christian Cardoso, North Columbus: The junior scored nine goals and led the Bull Dogs with 16 assists.
Flynn Keele, North Columbus: The elder has scored nine goals and six assists.
Nathan Imlay, North Columbus: The elder led the Bull Dogs with 11 goals and three assists.
Eduardo Cordova, North Columbus: The elder helped lead a defense that allowed just 12 goals in 22 games.
Obed Oliva, North Columbus: The junior registered seven goals and seven assists.
Cam Trueblood, East Columbus: The elder had a goal and an assist and led a defense that allowed just 22 goals in 16 games.
Pete Coriden, East Columbus: The senior posted six shutouts and a 1.40 goals-against average.
Justin Sylva, East Columbus: The junior got an assist and helped lead a defense that allowed just 22 goals in 16 games.
Nathan Davis, Jennings County: The elder led the Panthers with five goals and 11 assists.
Brown County: Carter Norcutt, Aaron Woodrum. East Columbus: Eduardo Aranda Michel, Jake Hofelich, Ben Sylva. Columbus North: Oscar Ballinas, Thomas De La Cruz, Max Grewe, Nico Gotoh, Konnor Gribbins, Leo Iorio, Raul Oliveria. Hauser: Elian Esclante, Lakota Robbins, Zach Weichman. Lutheran Trinity: Andrew Bell, Prader Kiel.