Prep football: Johnson helps spark Fremont defense
Plain City • Fremont safety Austin Johnson knows glory for defensive backs lies in racking up interceptions.
With four picks this season, he's experienced plenty of that glory. It's just that he doesn't much care.
"I just think coming up and making plays is fun," Johnson said. "Interceptions, they're fun, and they get all the glory, but I think big hits is more exciting for me. I just like to go in and hit people."
As well as leading the Silver Wolves with four interceptions, Johnson is one of the team's leading tacklers, which is a crucial job, despite being a much more thankless one.
"If you classify him as just a cover guy, he'll get downhill and tackle you, too," Fremont Coach Kory Bosgieter said. "He does good on both sides of that. He's good against the run, and he's good, obviously, over the top against the passing."
With all-state defensive back Jordan Preator missing much of the season, the Silver Wolves' secondary has gone through personnel changes and a radical transformation from what it was expected to be at the beginning of the year.
As a first-year starter, Johnson, a senior, has been one of the few constants in the inexperienced secondary.
"I'm real proud of the preparations he made through the offseason to be able to play as well as he has," Bosgieter said. "He's a hard worker, he's very coachable, he's in tune with what we're doing on our defense. He's a pretty physical kid, too. You look at him, you wouldn't know he's that physical, but he'll get after you."
The secondary struggled at times throughout the season. The Silver Wolves' defense gave up 35 points or more five times, something it had done just once in the previous two seasons, which both ended in trips to the Class 5A state title game.
"We were so not used to playing in varsity games, and it took us a while, but I think we got the hang of it," Johnson said. "It's been fun and a lot of learning. We all work together. We had trouble at first, but we never gave up. We just kept fighting, and I think that's been the fun of this year."
Through it all, Johnson has been a consistent playmaker, and Bosgieter said the rest of the defense has begun to take on his hard-nosed attitude.
"It sounds stupid, but you want guys who the only time they're concerned about the scoreboard is when the game's over," Bosgieter said. "They play hard no matter what, and that's what he does."
After losing its first six games, Fremont won two of its last three, and Johnson and the rest of the defense played a big role. Fremont gave up just 3 total points in wins against Weber and Layton.
It was enough for the Silver Wolves to sneak into one of Region 1's final two playoff spots on a coin flip, and Johnson said they have what it takes to make a surprise run, beginning with Friday's matchup at Hunter.
"I think if we just keep together and play like we did at the end of the year, I think we have a good shot," Johnson said. "We've just got to keep our mindset right."