Jeremy Johnson Leads Carver Into Playoffs

Six-foot-five quarterback Jeremy Johnson lead his Carver team to a 42-17 victory over Benjamin Russell, which locked up the #2 seed and gave the Wolverines an opening-round home game to start the playoffs. Highlights of Johnson are featured in this report.

Montgomery, Ala. – At the start of the day last Thursday, Carver-Montgomery, Benjamin Russell and Wetumpka were knotted at 4-2 in 6A Region 4 all fighting for the #2 seed and a chance to play at home in the first round of the playoffs.

Carver and Benjamin Russell played that night at the Cramton Bowl, but still needed outside help the next day. Wetumpka had the head-to-head tie breaker with a 33-32 victory over the Wolveries weeks earlier.

Sophomore quarterback Jeremy Johnson delivered with three touchdown passes as Carver beat Benjamin Russell 42-17.

"After reading the prediction on the Internet that we were supposed to lose this game 25-24, we had to come out and start well early like coach said," Johnson explained. "The special teams did good. Our defense played well. We knew they were a great running team, and our defense came out and got the stops that they needed. We came out and executed our offense, so this was a great win for us. Hopefully Stanhope (Elmore) will beat Wetumpka so we can get the first game at home."

Little did Johnson know that a few hours before the kickoff of the Carver versus Benjamin Russell game that the Alabama High School Athletic Association had ruled that Wetumpka had to forfeit its wins for using an ineligible player. The Thursday night win over the Wildcats gave Carver the #2 seed outright, a 6-3 record overall and a 6-1 record in the region with the only loss to Prattville.

"We did not know," Johnson said with a smile. "We really need a home game because I know it's going to be tough going on the road. All of the Mobile teams are great with great football players. Hopefully when they come here we can get a great crowd and give them a show."

Carver closes out the regular season with a home game against Booker T. Washington, then draws Murphy in the first round of the playoffs. Murphy is currently 5-4 overall and finished #3 in Region one with a 4-2 record.

Carver head coach Billy Gresham said he didn't even know about the Wetumpka ruling until talking with reporters after the game.

"We knew that if we won tonight and they (Wetumpka) lost tomorrow, that we'd have the No. 2 seed," Gresham said. "That's what we were hoping for. We didn't know, not at all.

"Any time you can host a playoff game at home it's big," he added. "It's big for the school and big for the city of Montgomery, being that we're the only team here in the playoffs. Hopefully we'll get everybody here to come out and support us and everybody behind us so we can make a great playoff run."

Johnson was a big reason why Carver handled Benjamin Russell so easily. He was on fire in the early going throwing an 11-yard touchdown pass on the first drive of the game and throwing a one-yard scoring toss early in the second quarter as Carver raced out to a 21-3 lead.

"All week at practice I was excited and bouncing around," Johnson said. "Coach said, ‘We're going to start early. We're going to start early.' We came out and started early with only one incomplete pass on the first drive. We came out and started early, and the ball was in my hands for me to put up points."

Gresham said after the game that putting the ball in his quarterback's hands early was the plan all week.

"That was the game plan," Gresham explained. "We knew they were very strong against the run, very stout. We wanted to loosen them up a little bit trying to throw some short ball, some out routes, hitch routes and throw the ball across the middle. He did a great job of executing that and the offensive line did a great job of protecting the quarterback."

Johnson is all of 6-5, 210 pounds and an athletic pocket passer.

Johnson finished the game completing 25 of 36 passes for 248 yards.

"He's played well the last couple of weeks, and he's putting up some big numbers," Gresham said of his quarterback. "He's getting everybody involved. The biggest thing for us offensively is that he's getting everybody lined up. He's managing the offense and running the offense."

As far as recruiting Johnson has an offer from Auburn, and that's all. At least that's all that Johnson knows.

"Recruiting is going well right now," Johnson explained. "I've got a lot of letters coming in right now. People are showing a lot of interest, and it's just going well right now.

"I've got offers from Auburn that I know of," he added. "I don't know myself. Most likely my dad would know, but all I know is Auburn. He's keeping it from me so I can stay humble."

Just a junior with his eyes set on the playoffs, Johnson isn't worried about the bridges he hasn't crossed yet.

"He's gotten a lot of interest from everybody, and he's handled it well," Gresham explained of Johnson's recruitment. "He's a team player so he's focused on winning the state championship. He's only a junior so he has time in the spring to evaluate his options and visit some campuses. He's done a great job of handling all of the attention and all of the pressure. Like I said, he's done a great job of focusing on this football team and making sure these guys are on the quest to win the state championship."

Gresham is in his first year as head coach at Carver where he was the defensive coordinator in previous seasons under Al Pogue, who is now a graduate assistant at Auburn.

Asked if he had interest in Auburn, Johnson responded, "Yes sir, a lot." Asked if he had visited Auburn, Johnson said, "Yes sir, a lot." He went on a visit earlier this football season and plans to make it back after his season is over.

"I was there when they played Mississippi State," Johnson said. "I was supposed to go down to the Florida game, but I was sick and bruised up so I wasn't able to make it.

"Aside from Auburn I'll also be attending Louisville, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida State and Florida on visits this off season."

Johnson could probably adjust to fit most systems in college, but is most natural as a drop-back passer.

"He's more of a drop-back passer," Gresham said, "but he's good enough of an athlete where he's mobile in the pocket and he can get out and get some runs and first downs for us. He's 6-5 and 210 pounds. He's our best short-yardage package right now, and we're looking for some big things from him down the road."

Click the link below for highlights of Johnson versus Benjamin Russell.

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