Post Top 25 countdown: No. 16 John I. Leonard
Friday, August 17, 2012
by Matt Porter
Some coaches struggle to instill toughness in a solidly-built player. John I. Leonard coach Wayne Monroe has the opposite problem with senior Adam Johnson.
Johnson was a free safety until last season, when Monroe asked him to move to quarterback. Johnson was barely 6-feet and 150 pounds.
"He's an athlete and he's got a big heart," Monroe said of Johnson. "It's hard to pull kids like that back. I wanted him to slide instead of taking on a defender. He's looking at me like, 'That's not in my makeup, Coach.' "
Now bulked up to about 175 pounds, Johnson has the same running ability, but possesses a greater understanding of John I.'s spread offense and the quarterback position in general. All signs point to a more efficient year.
Last season, he had more attempts (290) than any quarterback in the area, but completed just 46.8 percent of them. He ranked among large-schools leaders in passing yards (1,771, second) and touchdowns (16, third), but threw 11 interceptions, tied for second-most.
If John I., which beat Centennial 10-7 in the spring, improves on its 4-6 finish last season, Johnson will be a big reason why.
"We don't want to let him do too much, but he's a playmaker," Monroe said. "We've got to give him enough room."
As Johnson has matured, so has John I.'s young receiving corps. Leading receiver Jerry Jones (5-10, 180) looks to improve on last year's 636 yards and eight touchdowns. Fellow juniors Kenute Morris (5-9, 180), Louguens Lorissaint (5-8, 160) could be factors in a fast-paced offense. Junior Kaian Duvergier (6-4, 180) and sophomore Tavares Martin (6-1, 180) have shown potential.
On defense, Monroe is pleased with his senior-heavy linebacker corps. Seniors Tyson Joseph (6-1, 225), Ovenson Cledanord (6-0, 205), Chaz Anderson (6-4, 225) and Edens Merius (6-0, 215) will be the strength of the Lancers' 3-4 setup. Senior safety Anderson Figueroa (6-0, 200) will anchor the secondary.
The Lancers have plenty of size everywhere except the offensive and defensive lines. Since they must face heavyweight Class 8A opponents like Park Vista, Seminole Ridge and Palm Beach Central, the Lancers will try to outrun them.
"It's unfortunate those guys are on our schedule, but we've just got to play faster than them," Monroe said. "When they bring the size, we've got to be in better shape. We can wear you out and outlast you in the track meet."