Playoff run brings new perspectivePublished 10:53am Monday, December 5, 2011
BY LINDSAY VAUGHT
On Monday at Madison Academy, the loss to Handley in the 3A state football championship game still hurt. But the Mustangs extraordinary run to win the North Alabama bracket of the playoffs and earn a title shot in Tuscaloosa had wide-ranging benefits to many players that could pay off handsomely down the road.
As the playoff games got bigger, freshman Kerryon Johnson got better. He rushed for 144 yards against Lauderdale County and 137 against Rogers with five touchdowns in the two games to get unranked Academy to Tuscaloosa. Against second ranked Handley Johnson staked the Mustangs to an early lead on an 11-yard run around right end. In the third quarter he scampered 24 yards for a touchdown to put Academy up 14-7. He finished with 62 yards on 14 carries and caught five passes for 35 yards. He was in line to be named MVP, but Handley changed that with a fourth quarter comeback.
Even in the midst of disappointment the experience was priceless.
“It was great,” Johnson said of playing at Bryant-Denny Stadium, which now has a capacity of early 102,000. “I could just imagine playing here on Saturdays with the stands full. We had a great crowd here from Madison Academy. I’m very proud of our fans.”
Johnson said he does not comment of any recruiting contact with colleges, he lets his father handle that. His brother Keron was a standout basketball player at Madison Academy before going to Belmont University on a basketball scholarship.
Johnson, who transferred to Madison Academy from Providence Middle School in the seventh grade, garnered a mention in the Friday edition of the Tuscaloosa News that featured Division 1 prospects playing in the Super Six. The freshman now appears to be on the radar screen of Alabama and other SEC schools.
It would not be the first Madison Academy football player to sign with an SEC school. Two years ago Jordan Mathews signed with Vanderbilt. This season Mathews led the Commodores in receiving in the final five games and Vanderbilt beat Wake Forest to finish 6-6 and claim a Liberty Bowl bid.
For now Johnson will concentrate on playing basketball for the Mustangs.
“My favorite sport is football,” Johnson said after the loss to Handley.
“I still like basketball and will keep playing it but this experience this season has convinced me that my future is in football. To play for a state championship at this point in my career is huge. I just wish we could have won.”
Three seniors will likely play football at the college level. Marcus Sease has interest and will likely choose between UNA, University Tennessee-Martin, Tennessee-Chattanooga, and Middle Tennessee.
Quarterback Hunter Olive led a potent offense that set record for points scored in a season (518), points per game (36) and total yards (3,712). Khyle Jackson led the defense in tackles and contributed over 700 rushing yards on offense.
Madison Academy finished 12-3 tying a school record for wins (2009) for a football team in a season. Along the way the Mustangs won 12 games in a row.
“It’s been an unbelievable season,” said Robert Burton, President of Madison Academy.
“The boys had a great season. Coach Cohu and his staff have done a tremendous job all year,” Burton said. “We’ve got a young team and we are going to be back. We look forward to having Kerron Johnson for 3 more years. We brought one of the best coaches in the nation to Madison Academy 3 years ago,” Burton said of Cohu.
Cohu has compiled an impressive .850 winning percentage, two region titles, and now one appearance in the 3A championship game since coming to Madison Academy in 2009. His overall record at Academy is now 34-7.
Cohu came to Madison Academy from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. where he was adjunct professor in the Dept. of Sports Management. He was also an assistant football coach at Liberty Christian Academy.