TWIN FALLS— Jacob Johnson, the Times-News’ 2013 11-man Player of the Year, was chasing Twin Falls football records all season.
He had no idea.
“I really couldn’t tell you what my stats were,” Johnson said. “I never looked it up.”
It’ll be news to Johnson then that he finished second to Brody Miller (2004) in the Bruins record book for rushing yards and touchdowns.
Johnson finished with 1,778 rushing yards, 25 touchdowns and 87 receiving yards.
Unlike Miller, according to coach Allyn Reynolds, Johnson sat out many second halves.
He was also one of the best returners in the conference, as his kick-off return touchdown against Hillcrest helped take the game to overtime, in which the Bruins won in the fourth OT, helping launch a 7-3 season which included a conference championship.
Johnson likes talking about the overtimes in that season-opening win against Hillcrest.
“That’s when we knew it wasn’t just luck,” Johnson said.
He’d rather not talk about his individual success.
“Football is one of those sports, I don’t care who you are, it’s a team game,” Johnson said. “No one should take credit for something, I don’t care if its a long touchdown or a sack; there are 10 other guys on the field with you who made it happen.”
It’s the mindset that allowed the Bruins to outperform the sum of their parts.
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It wasn’t so early in the summer.
“I think everybody kind of thought it would be a down year,”Johnson said. “We all had big shoes to fill, we lost two great running backs, our quarterback, the majority of our offensive line and most of our defense. There was no other way to look at it except as a down year. We just tried to have as much enthusiasm as we could.”
The team spent a week with the National Guard in the mountains.
“We all showed up with some individuality and they stripped it from us,” Johnson said. “We didn’t have a lot of talent. We needed a team.”
That’s when the Bruins became the worker bees.
And it was the first game, when Johnson ran for 225 yards on 31 carries, when he became the workhorse.
At 190 pounds and with 4.4 speed, Johnson is being recruited by Utah State to play safety when he returns from a mission.
The highlight tape doesn’t skip or repeat.
The trademark Bruins play was a stretch run in which Johnson would take a 45-degree angle down the line, going about three-quarter speed looking for a cutback, running nearly parallel to defenders who had been charged to maintain containment. Seemingly no matter how wide they got, Johnson would trot by them, and then he’d get a full head of steam and go bowling down the sideline, knocking over would-be-defenders like defenseless pins.
“I begged coaches to play defense,” Johnson said. “I love to hit. I didn’t play safety or linebacker. I had to do my hitting at running back.”
Johnson is also eyeing other schools in the region, but is leaning towards committing to the Aggies in Logan, where his siblings live, he said.