By David Kurtz
Courtesy of PAC-10Sports.com, Posted 9/13/13
It’s an annual rite of spring in the Boyertown area – where baseball has always been king.
Young athletic boys – with dreams of game-winning home runs and one-hit shutouts – stream to local diamonds like seagulls flocking to the boardwalk in mid-July in search of discarded fare.
Brock Johnson found out the hard way that there were no free handouts available from the national pasttime. Like most of his young friends, the Boyertown Area High School senior was committed to baseball – the game that has helped shape the town’s athletic identity and legacy.
But Johnson learned of the cruel nature of the game at an early age.
“When I was little, I was a baseball player,” said Johnson, who later uncovered his true athletic identity on the football and lacrosse fields. “But then I got to 7th grade and I got cut. So I decided to try some other things, and I haven’t looked back.”
Johnson swapped his aluminum bat for a lacrosse stick, and it felt just right in his hands. The speed and physical nature of the game intrigued him, and proved to be a perfect fit for a kid that was drawn to contact sports.
It has been a remarkable journey for the oldest of four siblings. The first part of his senior year will be devoted to football, where he is the starting center for the upstart Bears. The final chapter belongs to lacrosse.
It is all starting out impressively for Johnson and the Bears on the football field this season. Through two games, the Boyertown offense has been electric – averaging 53.5 points and 527 total yards (387 rushing, 140 passing) to fuel a 2-0 start.
“It’s great to be around a bunch of my friends,” said Johnson. “We have real good size on our offensive line. In general, we’ve been playing together for a while now and we feel like we can push people around. We have some smart people on our front line.”
Few are smarter than Johnson, a National Honor Society member who sports a 3.9 GPA and expects to play Division III lacrosse.
“Brock is like a coach on the field,” said Boyertown football coach Mark Scisly. “He knows what all of the offensive linemen should be doing and he also knows all of our opponent’s tendencies. He is the leader of our offensive line and makes a lot of the line calls. He is in charge of the most important part of the play – the center-to-quarterback exchange. He also is our long-snapper and plays a lot on defense at linebacker.”
The same special qualities that make Johnson a remarkable student have carried him through his athletic career at Boyertown.
With baseball firmly in his rearview mirror, Johnson has turned his attention to lacrosse in the spring.
“I hope to play attack at the Division III level,” said Johnson, who says Eastern University and King’s College are at the front of his list of potential destinations. “I plan to major in sports management and business management.
“As an athlete, strength and speed are assets, and my vision helps out. I can see certain things, and I’m able to finish. I spend every second I can watching film after I go home from practice. I train my mind and am willing to work hard in everything I do.”
Johnson’s hard work and vision led to the First BASH/BOLT Youth Lacrosse Clinic this summer. With the help of 22 current Boyertown players and several Bear alums playing in college, Johnson staged the two-day clinic to rave reviews. Click here for the story.
“There were fundamentals taught for each position,” said Johnson, who worked with the president of BOLT to organize the event. “I think it went really, really well. It was funny, we didn’t get much response at first but after a friend’s dad sent out emails, it took off. We had around 50 kids participating, and with all the help I had, it was a good (coach/student) ratio. The kids had fun, and that was the important thing.
“Some of the kids come out and watch us play during the season so we knew some of them. It was great watching Tyler Fuhrman (Stevenson recruit) – the best attackman we’ve had at Boyertown – and our goalie Austin Mutter (committed to Eastern) teaching kids. They’re great players and the kids respect all of us.”
Johnson, who recognizes that connecting a youth program to a high school program spawn success further down, has earned that respect. A member of the Key Club, Green Cord (100 hours of community service) and a volunteer youth coach in several sports including football and lacrosse, Johnson has laid the groundwork for future success on the playing field and beyond.
“I think we have a really good shot in football this year,” said Johnson. “There are so many good teams out there like Perkiomen Valley, Pottsgrove and Spring-Ford. But we play as a family, and with that attitude, good things can happen.”
The family atmosphere carries over to the lacrosse field, where the Bears have reached the PAC-10 Final Four playoffs the last four years but have yet to attain their first league title. Johnson is hopeful the clinic is part of a process that enables Boyertown to join two-time defending PAC-10 champion Spring-Ford and perennial powerhouse Owen J. Roberts among the circuit’s elite programs.
“It was a great experience,” Johnson said of the clinic. “My main goal was to help strengthen the Boyertown program as a whole. We plan to do it every year. I want to be at (lacrosse) championship games where Boyertown is holding up the trophy.
As for the upcoming 2014 boys lax season, Johnson said, “We lost a lot to graduation. But we have six seniors back that are mostly college-level players. We are focused and our attitude is to stir things up.”
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