This morning I found a good story on Gryphon O-Line recruit Scott Johnson. It is “good” on several levels – raising goals, working hard, success on the field and success in the classroom. And it is really nice to see that O-Line Coach Mike MacDonald played a important role in it.
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Johnson’s St Thomas More Knights won back-to-back OFSAA Bowls in 2015 and 2016. He also won an OFC Varsity championship with the Hamilton Jr. Tiger-Cats and played for Team Ontario in last January’s International Bowl in Dallas TX.
From HamiltonToday.com – Guelph recruits St Thomas More’s Scotty Johnson:
By Larry Moko
The sport of football provided kind of a silent motivating pep talk that St. Thomas More Knights’ offensive tackle Scott Johnston needed to reach his goal in the classroom.
“It’s a feel-good story with a tremendous payoff,” Knights coach Claudio Silvestri said Thursday at More while Johnston was signing a letter of intent to play Ontario university football for the Guelph Gryphons.
At the high school level, 6-foot-4, 300-pound Johnston helped power More to consecutive Ontario Secondary Schools Athletic Association bowl championships in 2015 and ’16. He also played for Team Ontario at the International Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex. (home of the Dallas Cowboys).
“I love football,” Johnston said. “It’s the love of my life. But I was ready to say goodbye to it.”
That’s because a year ago in high school Johnston was taking mainly college level courses, thinking he might want to become a paramedic. Then, he was approached by recruiter Mike MacDonald of Guelph’s staff after a game and his attitude about the future changed. “After that happened,” Johnston said, “I put my head down and thought to myself ‘football is going to give me a chance to go to university and do better things. So I’m going to work my tail off to get into university.’”
MacDonald, who serves as the Gryphons offensive line coach, was in attendance for the signing and said he’s proud of Johnston’s development both on the football field and off. “Scott made the decision to go to university late in his high school career,” MacDonald said. “He was in the applied stream then he switched to the academic stream. He’s coming out of high school with an 80 average … that’s amazing.
“If it’s football that gets them (student athletes) to university, then so be it.”
Johnston played six seasons with the Hamilton Ironmen summer rep organization before joining the Hamilton Varsity Tiger-Cats last summer. The Guelph O-line coach likes Johnston’s footwork, the way he uses his hands, his strength and how he plays with a competitive “edge.”
“His ability really showed in the Steel City Bowl (last November at McMaster),” MacDonald said. “He was playing against the best defensive ends in the Hamilton region and did a great job. That showed how far he has come.”
Johnston has been a solid left tackle for More’s Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic league seniors for the past three years. Oddly enough, he was cut from the More junior team in Grade 9, which made him work extra hard before attending the next tryouts.
According to Silvestri, Johnston has been pushing himself in the weight room and with off-season conditioning to get stronger and faster.
“He’s a quiet leader that everybody gravitates towards,” Silvestri said. “When Scotty says things, they’re meaningful.”
Said MacDonald: “I saw Scott last summer with the (OFC champion) Ticats and I had the opportunity to coach him in some Team Ontario tryouts as well as watch him in high school. Scott doesn’t just have talent and size. It’s his attitude, character and integrity.”
Johnston is excited to go to a quality program like Guelph’s. “Especially on the offensive line, they are sending players to the pros,” he said.
Johnston also thanked his mother and father – Sonia and Mark – for helping him advance in football.
And a follow-up story today from HamiltonToday.com – Four STM Knights get football scholarships. An excerpt here …
Scott Johnston is looking forward to bumping into some of his former St. Thomas More football teammates on the university gridiron in the future.
The six-foot three, 300 pound offensive lineman signed on for a football scholarship with the University of Guelph last week.
“It was always a dream of mine growing up as a kid,” said Johnston who will be studying criminal justice.
The 18-year-old Mountain resident who has also played summer football with the Hamilton Ironmen and Varsity Tiger-Cats organizations said he was attracted to the Guelph campus on a recent visit.
“He’s strong, he plays with an edge, he’s got good technique, good hands, good feet and character and leadership,” said Guelph offensive line coach Mike MacDonald who sees Johnston eventually working his way into a starting job with the Gryphons.
And with three of his STM teammates signing on with McMaster, Johnston agreed future games between Guelph and the Marauders will have added meaning.
“I definitely look forward to those games, especially when I play my friends because I know I have to bring my game because they are bringing theirs,” he said. “It’s going to be fun.”