Johnson a force for No. 24 JimmiesThe photo accompanying this story is one of the main reasons Jade Johnson is so effective. At 6-foot-3 and a firm 180 pounds, the Jimmies’ powerful sophomore forward out of West Fargo is just plain hard to stop. Adding further complications, he’s fast, too. So when he wants the ball, he’s probably going to get it, no matter who is in the way.
By: By Dave Selvig, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
The photo accompanying this story is one of the main reasons Jade Johnson is so effective.
At 6-foot-3 and a firm 180 pounds, the Jimmies’ powerful sophomore forward out of West Fargo is just plain hard to stop. Adding further complications, he’s fast, too. So when he wants the ball, he’s probably going to get it, no matter who is in the way.
“Jade is physically gifted,” JC head soccer coach Phillip Bohn said. “He’s a handful. He’s proven that pretty consistently this season.”
It wasn’t necessarily always that way for the former Packer standout, at least the physical part.
“I realized I needed to get stronger,” Johnson said. “The transition from high school to college is pretty significant. It’s like anything else, you have to make yourself better and that takes hard work.”
Johnson has added 15 pounds of muscle since arriving on campus as a freshman last season and the work in the weight room paid off.
Johnson leads the 24th-ranked ranked and national-tournament bound Jimmies with 30 points this season. His 11 goals trail only teammate George Gauld’s 12 and his eight assists are tied for the most with Jonathon Lodge for tops on the team.
Considering the firepower the 15-4-1 Jimmies possess, Johnson’s numbers pretty much speak for themselves.
“These are a fun group of guys to play with,” he said. “A lot of us have kind of grown up in the program together. I think that’s been a big thing for us having success.”
The Jimmies are two days away from their first ever appearance in the NAIA national tournament opening round. They travel to Billings, Mont., to take on 20th-ranked Rocky Mountain College (13-2-2). The winner of Saturday’s 2 p.m. match advances to Montgomery, Ala., for the 16-team national championships.
Despite Johnson’s physical stature, and game to match, he wasn’t highly recruited out of West Fargo. Bohn hears a familiar refrain from opposing coaches about the North Dakota product.
“‘Where did you find that guy?’” and “‘How’d we miss on him?’”
Well, he ended up in Jamestown, and the scary thing is he still has two more seasons to go, although there’s still work to be done in 2012.
“We’re very confident because of the way we’ve played. (Rocky Mountain) is a very good team, but I think every guy out here believes we can win,” Johnson said. “If we didn’t, we wouldn’t still be here.”
The Jimmies are coming off an impressive weekend performance in San Marcos, Calif., where they scored six goals in two games to win the Association of Independent Institutions tournament to automatically qualify for nationals and earn a spot in the NAIA top 25 for the first time.
A win Saturday would be the next logical step in the program’s progression.
“Coach (Bohn) brought in a lot of great players to get us to this point,” Johnson said. “Hopefully we can take the next step and keep it going.”
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org