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FOOTBALL IN HALL 2019: Johnson looking to new leadership to keep momentum from solid 2018
Knights now led by former Chestatee High coach Stan Luttrell
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Spartans Quentin Smith holds off Knights Vashon Johnson during the Battle of Oakwood game between the Johnson Knights and West Hall Spartans at Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018. - photo by Austin Steele

Stan Luttrell has enough experience to take a program and turn it around for the better and that’s exactly what he plans to do in his inaugural season as the head coach at Johnson High. Luttrell, who spent eight years as the head coach at Chestatee before going to Buford, Gainesville and then Habersham Central, is back in Hall County and leading the way for a team that has a history of tough seasons.

That’s not what Luttrell is focused on.

“I’m really excited about the improvement that we’ve shown and (the team) understanding what my expectations are for them and my style of play and all that stuff,” Luttrell said. “I think they’ve done a really good job conforming to it.”

The first order of business to adjust players to Luttrell’s style of play was to get them in the weight room. This season, he plans to have the Knights “bigger, faster, stronger, more explosive and more resilient” than ever before. And with that, he hopes to turn a team he said “a lot of people don’t believe in,” into a team the South Hall school has never seen.

“One of the messages I’m sending is it can be done,” Luttrell said.”Believe it can be done. It can be done here. It can be done at Johnson.”

Luttrell plans to use everything he’s learned at schools like Buford, Gainesville and Habersham Central with the Knights. He’s hoping with his coaching, the success he saw at those schools will transfer to Johnson in the upcoming season.

“Of course I have high expectations because that’s who I am,” Luttrell said. “This team has a ton of potential … If they’ll continue to buy into what I’m saying and the culture and the way that I want things done, then there’s no telling how good we could be.”

5 things to watch

New mindset

After getting his team in the weight room, Luttrell knew he had to change the team’s mindset.

“To start winning, you’ve got to stop losing,” Luttrell said. “So we’ve got to start doing what winners do and eventually if you do what winners do, you win.”

With that new mindset for his players and coaching staff, Luttrell said the team is more confident than ever. 

“We’ve put a really big focus on anything that’s not a winning attitude, winning work ethic, winning commitment, winning coachability, you name it,” Luttrell said. “Anytime there’s something like that, we try to address it and correct it because if you want to start winning, which is our goal, then you’ve got to stop losing.”

Option offense

With a new coach comes a new offense. 

Luttrell said he’ll be running an option offense — split-back attack — this fall. He said it’s an offense that fits his team well, and something Johnson has tinkered with in the past, but hasn’t fully committed to doing.

“It complements a young group, a learning group,” Luttrell said. “It complements a line of scrimmage that is growing and developing.”

It’s a new offense that requires a strong quarterback to make decisions and a smart backfield to go with those decisions.

“They have a base knowledge of option football, but we’re doing it a little bit different,” Luttrell said. “They’ve adjusted and adapted well. Not only the players, but the coaches, too … I’m training up the coaches as well as the players and everybody is doing a great job of learning and trying to do things the way I want them.”

Quarterback

Junior quarterback Justin Long is learning that new option offense. In an effort to create depth at the position, Luttrell’s son, Jack, a freshman, will be backing up Long. Luttrell said Long has been working at the position all summer and has learned what he needs to do.

Jack Luttrell has been doing the same.

“Justin’s doing a great job at QB,” Luttrell said. “But we are trying to develop depth.”

Seniors

Even though the teams recent history has been something it doesn’t want to focus on, Luttrell is happy to have some returning players and a strong roster of seniors. It’s an experienced team that will bring leadership in places where skills may lack.

“They’ve done a really good job of communicating with me and going into their senior year,” Luttrell said. “I want nothing more than for them to have a great senior year and a great high school experience within 

Johnson football.”

Luttrell said with that leadership, the new offense should be an easier thing to learn. There are 14 seniors on the roster, which he said is a good number.

“They’re learning how to lead because I believe that your team will only be as good as your seniors,” Luttrell said. “They’ve done a good job and I’m really excited about the progress we’ve made in the short time that I’ve been here.”

Those seniors are spread across the offense and defense, bringing a level of consistency throughout the field.

Luttrell said there isn’t one dominant position, so he’s ready to see what his team 

can bring.

“I think it’s pretty spread out,” Luttrell said. “This is their chance. This is their year to get to play on Friday nights and their time to shine as a high school football player.”

Outside linebackers

The position to watch this season is at outside linebacker. Luttrell said both sophomore Caleb Jackson and senior Tre Jackson will be at the position, anchoring the center of the defense. They’ll also play on the other side of the ball in key positions — Caleb at wide receiver and Tre at running back — but they’ve stood out at outside linebacker.

“Having been through the whole summer, I’m very impressed with Caleb Jackson and Tre Jackson,” Luttrell said. “Both those guys have really done a good job of picking up our concept in the secondary or how the OLBs relate to the secondary on defense. Their physicality at the padded camp was a plus.”


Schedule


Friday OGLETHORPE COUNTY

Aug. 30 at West Hall

Sept. 6 at Cherokee Bluff

Sept. 13 RIVERSIDE MILITARY

Sept. 20 Cross Keys

Oct. 4 BUFORD*

Oct. 11 WALNUT GROVE*

Oct. 18 at Cedar Shoals*

Nov. 1 CLARKE CENTRAL*

Nov. 8 at Loganville*

*region games

Roster

11. Nolan Bullock RB/DB Sr.

59. Brayden Carr OL/DL Sr.

28. Elmer Chavez WR/DB Sr.

45. Dylan Dunham TE/LB Sr.

12. Caleb Jackson WR/LB Sr.

44. Vashon Johnson TE/DL Sr.

1. Deago Kelly WR/DB Sr.

3. Hunter Long WR/DB Sr.

52. Gabriel Quinton OL/DL Sr.

30. Tatenda Sangweme WR/DB Sr.

73. Andrew Scharmer OL/DL Sr.

29. Bishop Spencer TE/LB Sr.

72. Hunter Cain OL/DL Jr.

74. Jose Flores OL/DL Jr.

69. Steven Flores K Jr.

16. Justin Long QB/LB Jr.

10. Josh Lopez RB/LB Jr.

13. Xzavior Ramsey RB/DB Jr.

51. Isaiah Reddick OL/DL Jr.

27. Nathan Seabolt WR/DB Jr.

71. Darrion Thompson OL/DL Jr.

60. Michael Vega OL/DL Jr.

70. Grant Wooten OL/DL Jr.

56. Juan Allen OL/LB So.

58. Francisco Almendariz OL/DL So.

78. Jesse Contreras OL/DL So.

77. Allen Gutierrez OL/DL So.

8. Tre Jackson RB/LB So.

54. Salvador Sanchez OL/LB So.

81. Jake Shaw TE/LB So.

5. Dayshun Summerour RB/DB So.

40. Alexis Velasquez TE/LB So.

41. Tyler Caughron RB/LB Fr.

17. Kevin Cervantes K Fr.

6. Jud Farmer RB/DB Fr.

4. Jack Luttrell QB/DB Fr.

50. Brian Moreno OL/DL Fr.

9. Summerour Nasir WR/LB Fr.

22. Jesus Ponce TE/LB Fr.

20. Noah Scott RB/LB Fr.

7. Michael Thurmond QB/DB Fr.

55. Mauricio Zaragoza OL/DL Fr.

Regional events