Johnson Central has golden season

Johnson Central head coach Jim Matney talks to quarterback Ryley Preece during the Class 4A state championship at Kroger Field. The Golden Eagles fell to Franklin-Simpson 14-12.

Johnson Central fought to the end.

The Golden Eagles came up short.

It would’ve been easy for this team to quit.

Just look at the story lines.

The Golden Eagles had three scores called back.

That didn’t stop them.

Johnson Central had the ball and drove down the field on their final possession and scored a touchdown to cut the lead to 14-12.

The Golden Eagles went to tie up the game and came up just a little shy of the goal line.

What a season, though.

Joe Jackson’s incredible comeback season after missing all of last season due to injury.

The Horn brothers (Alex and Matt) dominance on the defensive line.

The offensive line dominating opposing defenses.

Ryley Preece’s growth as a third-year starting quarterback.

Then just look at the job bringing everybody together. Coach Jim Matney and his coaching staff put in the work and put the pieces to the puzzle that made everything work.

In the semifinals against Knox Central, Johnson Central jumped out to a 21-0 lead.

It looked like the Golden Eagles were going to cruise, but then three straight turnovers helped Knox Central get back in the game. 

Johnson Central turned the momentum back in its favor with a safety.

Then in the state championship, Johnson Central had two returns called back and the Golden Eagles missed a field goal late in the second quarter that could’ve given them the lead.

Both of the returns for touchdowns were questionable at best.

But Johnson Central played through it.

The Golden Eagles fought and fought.

And on the last drive of the season, Jackson scored a touchdown.

But the two-point conversion was just short.

Maybe Johnson Central didn’t win it all, but it was still a championship season.

They fought.

They didn’t give up.

They just came up a little short.

How many teams can make it to the state championship game four straight years?

The seniors on the team accomplished something that no other senior class has — playing in the state championship every year of their career.

So next season, the Golden Eagles return Preece and Devin Johnson and slew of other talented players.

Don’t be surprised if Johnson Central finds its way back to the championship game. 

It’s just kind of what Johnson Central does now.

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