The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest Sports

November 13, 2012

He’s come a long way

Cavaliers center Johnson has started 45 straight games

Zack Johnson remembers the first start of his high school career. It came during his freshman year against Shady Spring.

“We lost the game,” Johnson said.

There haven’t been many of those over the years in Charmco. But that fall evening in 2009 was about more than a win or a loss. It also started the career of a player who has become an integral part of an incredible run at Greenbrier West.

Johnson, a 6-foot-3, 265-pound senior, is now a four-year starter for the Cavaliers. He is the starting center on offense and left tackle on defense.

Last Saturday’s 48-6 win over Meadow Bridge in a first-round Class A playoff game was Johnson’s 45th straight start. During Johnson’s time, the Cavs have posted a 36-9 record, including a perfect regular season in 2010.

Five of those losses came in Johnson’s freshman year, a rare non-playoff season for West. Since then, the Cavs are 31-4.

“That first start, I was the low man on the totem pole,” Johnson said. “I gradually worked my way up and now I am a go-to guy as far as leaders go.”

The game, of course, has slowed down for Johnson.

“I’m getting a lot better at reading the defense,” he said. “When I first started, I just wanted to go out and hit somebody. Now I can read plays and know which direction things are going.”

Greenbrier West coach Lewis McClung knows well the value of an experienced lineman.

“He has been key to us, and really critical along the offensive line,” McClung said. “We have gotten leadership from him and Justin Hamrick (a junior).”

Johnson said he prefers defense to offense.

“You get to hit more,” he said. “Offense is more about control.”

As the starting center, it’s up to Johnson to start in motion what is arguably the area’s most effective rushing attack. The Cavs have two 1,000-yard rushers in junior quarterback/tailback Malik Boatwright and senior tailback Tyler Parker.

“They are two different backs,” Johnson said. “Malik can score at any given time, but you know Tyler is going to get five or six yards on each play. You just have to block for them and put somebody on the ground, or get them out of their way.

“It’s exciting because you never know what is going to happen.”

West (10-1), rated No. 6 in Class A, will hit the road to battle No. 3 Wahama (11-0) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. The game will be played at Point Pleasant High School.

It will consecutive start No. 46 for Johnson, who remembers much more about that first one than just the result.

“I was sick to my stomach, I was so nervous,” he said. “But once I got a feel for the game, everything just fell into place. ... I thought I did all right for never (starting) before.”

Things have turned out just fine.

— E-mail: gfauber@

register-herald.com

1
Text Only
Latest Sports
  • Herd lands ‘Other D’Antoni’

    Danny D’Antoni hasn’t been a West Virginia resident in nearly 40 years. That will soon change, and his family could not be happier.
    D’Antoni will be introduced as Marshall’s new head men’s basketball coach at a press conference at 2 p.m. today. Athletic director Mike Hamrick announced the hiring via Twitter Thursday afternoon.

    April 24, 2014

  • 042514 thompson Shady’s Thompson clearing hurdles with ease

    A fall while running hurdles can be a dangerous thing.
    Unless you’re Shady Spring’s Lyndsey Thompson.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • It’s time for spring cleaning inside my crowded cranium

    My head has been filled with more thoughts than a Hallmark store and more nuggets than a McDonald’s freezer in recent days, so I decided it was time to clear them out and get at least some of them in print.
    Here goes.

    April 24, 2014

  • Treadway Memorial wooden bat tournament begins today

    It’s time to break out the sticks in Coal City.
    The Jeff Treadway Memorial Wooden Bat Tournament will be held tonight and Saturday when the host team Independence, welcomes visitors Bluefield, Greenbrier West and James Monroe to Joe Goddard Field.

    April 24, 2014

  • Dan D’Antoni will be next Marshall men's basketball coach

    Dan D’Antoni will be named the new head men’s basketball coach at Marshall, a source with direct knowledge of the hiring confirmed to The Register-Herald on Thursday.

    April 24, 2014

  • Hamrick deserves praise for pursuit of D’Antoni

    Sometimes gambles don’t pay off, but some risks simply have to be taken.

    April 23, 2014

  • Gettin’ ready for gobbler season: Step 5 — safety

    My brothers in camo, I could not do this series on preparing for gobbler season without talking to you about the aspects of turkey hunting safety. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I have trouble calling myself an expert on anything. Unfortunately, however, I do have a lot of experience in this area.

    April 23, 2014

  • 042414 woodrow 2 Woodrow hangs on to knock off No. 5 Patriots

    What was supposed to be a pitchers duel turned into anything but Wednesday at Woodrow Wilson High School, but there was not shortage of drama in the Class AAA baseball showdown between No. 8 Woodrow Wilson and No. 5 George Washington.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • WVU post-spring depth chart filled with few surprises

    Although the contents brought about as much of a surprise as a over the hill balloon at a 40th birthday party, there were a few interesting nuggets in the post-spring depth chart that West Virginia University sent out Wednesday morning.

    April 23, 2014

  • Herd staffer completes Boston Marathon

    As Travis Epling watched the events of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings as they were unfolding, he couldn’t help feeling a connection.

    April 23, 2014