Johnny Sears: And then it ended...

It seems like just last week when we first reported on defensive back <b>Johnny Sears</b> from Edison High School in Fresno, Calif. He came out of nowhere to receive, and accept, a scholarship offer from the University of Michigan. <br><br> His brief one-year varsity career ended Friday night with a 14-7 loss to Clovis West in the quarterfinals of the California Interscholastic Federation Central Section Division I playoffs. So what is next for the talented sleeper?

A late drive down the field ended in confusion as Edison attempted to come back from a seven-point deficit with less than a minute left in the game. After two Clovis West sacks, the Tigers were faced with a fourth-and-23 and no time outs from their own 42. Tiger quarterback Arkelon Hall then spiked the ball in an effort to stop the clock. As a result the Tigers turned the ball over on downs, and Clovis West ran the clock out to safeguard the 14-7 victory and advanced to the semi-finals next week.

In the third week of the season the Edison Tigers thoroughly dismantled the Clovis West 45-13. The teams met again Friday at Buchanan Field in Clovis, Calif. in the quarterfinals for the CIF Central Section. California does not crown a "State Champion" and is divided into 10 sections, each with its own champion.

Clovis West handed powerhouse De La Salle from Concord, Calif. its second loss in 12 years the first week of the season and the Tigers' staff was not looking past the Golden Eagles. "These guys will be ready to play," Edison assistant coach Tony Perry said before the game. "We beat them on this field and they will want payback."

The earlier shootout was no preview of the game Friday. In what turned out to be a defensive struggle, the teams ended the first quarter in a scoreless tie. Michigan commitment Johnny Sears had no touches and one tackle in the period.

Edison took the ball early in the second quarter and orchestrated a 12-play, 63-yard drive to get on the board first. Rashaad Green scored from five-yards out to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead. Edison kept primarily on the ground during the drive, though they did make on attempt at trickery on the first play of the drive, with Hall faking a reverse to Sears then nearly throwing an interception. After that Edison used Green and Dalen Mason to march down the field for the score. The first-half finished with Edison up 7-0.

Clovis West took the second-half kickoff and promptly went backwards. A holding penalty on third down left the Golden Eagles facing a fourth a 28 from their own 20, when they punted. The next Edison drive stalled when the Tigers failed to convert on a fourth-and-two in Clovis West territory. Sears took a screen and raced for the first down marker but was caught short.

The third quarter was more defense and ended with no change in the score.

Clovis lined up out of the shotgun formation the entire evening, using two tight ends and no receivers for most of the night. They continued to pound away at the Edison defense but began to mix in a few pass plays as the fourth quarter got under way. On first and ten from their own 33 with 10:00 left in the game, J.J. Jelmini launched his first pass, which sailed long. Three plays later Jelmini connected with Kyle Duffy for a 40-yard touchdown strike. Duffy blew past the Edison secondary and had five-yards on the defenders. The score was now tied at 7 with 8:38 left in the game.

Edison had no answer as their next series started off well, with Mason gaining 16-yards on a counter, but the Clovis West defense stiffened, forcing a Tiger punt.

Clovis West took the ball on their own 9-yard-line with seven minutes remaining in the game and proceeded to march downfield with a 12-play, 91-yard drive that culminated in an eight-yard TD run by fullback Ryan Long to put the Golden Eagles up 14-7 with 1:22 left in the game. And that was how it would finish.

Afterwards Perry said the game should have been that close. "We kept them in it, let them stay close," he said. "They are a good team and it showed tonight." Neither Hall nor Edison head coach Tim McDonald had a comment on the game. Edison finished the season 8-4.


Johnny Sears told us after the game that he was now going to concentrate on basketball. "I play the two and the three spots for our team," he said. "If they'll let me I'll play it all in college." Sears also runs track for the Tigers.

GoBlueWolverine Magazine has covered Sears extensively throughout his one and only year of varsity ball. The long-legged 6-footer shows incredible talent and football instincts that are rare, he breaks well on the ball, has amazing quickness and mobility, and is just plain fast. Though a bit light at 170-pounds, he is not afraid to stick his head into tackles against players much bigger. He'll need to gain some weight and muscle in order to succeed at the next level, as well as learn the cornerback position. There were times during the year when he did get initially beat by opposing receivers, but was able to use his speed to compensate. He won't have that luxury against D-1 receivers.

What position will Sears play at Michigan? He is being recruited by Wolverine defensive backs coach Ron English and will most likely play in the defensive secondary. However, he showed good hands and the ability to elude defenders at the wideout spot. As a matter of fact McDonald believes he could end up at receiver in college. Only time will tell. One thing for certain, English scored a coup with this talented young man. USC and Cal are still calling Sears, and reports are an offer from Berkeley is in the near future. Sears has made it clear to us, though, that he will stay in the Winged Helmet when he gets to college.

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