They share the backfield. They share the ball. They share the same three high school sports (football, basketball, and track). They share the same position on the football field. They've known each other since the second grade. Now they plan on winning the City Championship together. Jeremiah Johnson and Stafon Johnson (no relation) are the keys to LA Dorsey's success. They are favored in the semis against Carson this weekend, but they would be the underdog if they faced Venice in the finals. "We've got something to prove," Stafon says, "we want Venice."
When you talk to the Johnsons it becomes apparent they are very used to referring to themselves as "we." They are comfortable with that. It isn't just a "there is no "I" in "team"" philosophy. There isn't even an "I" in the backfield at Dorsey. "If anything he (Jeremiah) has helped me. Sure I want my touches and I want my yards, but it is all about winning a championship on this team, and with both of us we've got a better chance of winning." Stafon says.
"I try to be a mentor to Stafon on and off the field," Jeremiah says. "I'm only a year older, but if I can help him I want to, because helping him helps the team."
It doesn"t hurt that each athlete's individual success is so dependent on the other. Dorsey Coach Paul Knox has both his stars in the backfield at the same time for most of the game. Thus, if Stafon is going to break a big one, most likely it will be Jeremiah's block that helps him do so, and vice versa.
And it's a good thing they are so comfortable in this position, because there will be another year of it for both. "Both these kids are only going to get better, I'm just glad I get them both for another year."
Yes, Jeremiah, the Coliseum League rushing leader (1171 yrds) and scoring leader (120 pts) is a junior. Meanwhile Stafon is only a sophomore. A sophomore that finished second in the league in rushing, just a single yard behind his backfield mate. This is what keeps defensive coordinators in the Coliseum League up late at night. By now most have been eliminated and should be looking forward to next season, instead they all know that when they come up against Dorsey next year, it'll be more of the same.
I had wondered if there would be any ego at all. If Stafon would be frustrated when I did Jeremiah's profile first. Because of this I'd lined up all sorts of reasons. Age, the rushing and scoring titles a longer first name. But after talking to both backs I realized neither would care. How did I know? Check out their answers to my first question.
jj: It's 4th and 1, who gets the ball?
Jeremiah: Probably Stafon.
Stafon: Probably Jeremiah.
Thanks guys, nothing like a complete lack of controversy to kill a really juicy story. So, instead of a juicy story of teammates always fighting for control of the team, and their last name, I give you facts.
Stafon is listed an inch taller than Jeremiah at 5'11" but gives up two pounds at 185. Stafon's style is more of a "make you miss" while Jeremiah favors the "you'll wish you missed" approach. More often than not both backs require multiple defenders be in on a tackle and both take pride in blocking for the other.
"Every time Stafon has a big play I feel like it was just as much mine as his." Jeremiah says, and he's right. Start with the simple fact that the defense absolutely must split their attention pre-snap. Misdirection plays have become a mainstay in the Dorsey offense, pulling defenders out of position before either back has even touched the ball. After the snap it really doesn't matter who gets the ball, because the other one is bound to lay some poor linebacker on his butt.
LA Dorsey has other weapons, and both Johnsons are quick to point this out. Donald Price provides stability and senior leadership in the QB spot, and Phillip Perry and David Gettis are two outstanding receivers, but this team is focused around Jeremiah and Stafon.
"Coach Knox works us real hard. But he's been coaching for a long time and has had a lot of success, you have to listen to him." Both backs said this. Almost word for word. It was a little scary. Then Stafon, the youngster that he is, added something, "otherwise its sprints and up downs. I don't like those, so I listen."
For Dorsey fans it's double your pleasure, for opponents it's a two headed monster. For Johnson and Johnson it's about teamwork and support. Same backfield, same time, same place, same name.