PelicanPreps: Mr. FootballPelicanPreps.com: Class 4A All-State
Before playing the first down of his senior season, O. Perry Walker defensive tackle Anthony Johnson already had earned virtually every significant individual accolade available to a Louisiana high school football player.
Now comes the crown jewel.
Louisiana Sports Writers Association's Louisiana Farm Bureau/Mr. Football award winners:
1995: Cecil Collins, Leesville, RB
1996: Travis Minor, Catholic-Baton Rouge, RB
1997: Adam McConathy, West Monroe, LB
1998: Bradie James, West Monroe, LB
1999: Brock Berlin, Evangel Christian, QB
2000: Byron Robertson, St. Thomas Aquinas, RB
2001: Jason Miller, Iota, RB
2002: Robert Lane, Neville, QB
2003: Chris Markey, Jesuit, RB
2004: Ryan Perrilloux, East St. John, QB
2005: Charles Scott, Jonesboro-Hodge, RB
2006: Joe McKnight, John Curtis, RB
2007: Randall Mackey, Bastrop, QB
2008: Blake Matherne, Belle Chasse, QB
2009: Gavin Webster, Lutcher, QB
2010: Anthony Johnson, O. Perry Walker, DT
Johnson has been chosen as Louisiana Farm Bureau/Mr. Football winner by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
Johnson, 6-foot-3, 285 pounds, is just the third defensive player chosen as Mr. Football since the award was created 15 years ago in 1995. He also is the first defender to earn the honor since two linebackers from northeast Louisiana, West Monroe's Adam McConathy and Bradie James, were selected in consecutive seasons in 1997 and 1998 respectively.
"I thought I played really well, being a two-way starter in my senior year,'' said Johnson, who also played in the offensive line. "I really put forth the effort and dedicated myself to my team. I left it on the field.''
Johnson is the third consecutive player from Metro New Orleans to be chosen as Mr. Football and the sixth overall, with all six winners coming in the last eight years.
The previous five were Jesuit running back Chris Markey in 2003, East St. John quarterback Ryan Perrilloux in 2004, Curtis running back Joe McKnight in 2006, Belle Chasse quarterback Blake Matherne in 2008 and Lutcher quarterback Gavin Webster a year ago.
Additionally, Bastrop quarterback Randall Mackey, the 2007 Mr. Football, played at Port Sulphur before Hurricane Katrina forced him to relocate to northeast Louisiana.
"I don't think people truly understand just how passionate Anthony is about the game of football,'' O. Perry Walker Coach Emanuel Powell said. "I don't think people realize what a tremendous work ethic he has both on and off the field, watching film, as a student in the classroom. Along with being tenacious on the field, he also has the smarts and wits to go with it.''
A virtual consensus selection as one of the top senior prospects, Johnson did not disappoint in his final campaign. The LSU commitment averaged 10 tackles a game, a highly impressive total for an interior lineman, and recorded a combined 48.5 tackles for losses in 13 games to help Walker advance to the Class 4A state semifinals for the third time in school history.
Johnson totaled 129 tackles, 31 tackles for losses and 17.5 sacks in addition to forcing seven fumbles, intercepting one pass and recording a safety to help Walker earn a state playoff berth as a District 10-4A wild card. The Chargers advanced to the playoffs as a District 10-4A wild card and then beat past Minden, Salmen and Bastrop in the playoffs before falling to eventual state champion Franklinton in the semifinals.
A four-time All-District selection and LSU commitment, Johnson finished with 79 career sacks.
Johnson also is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year on the Class 4A All-State team selected by the LSWA, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year on the All-Metro Large Schools football team selected by The Times Picayune newspaper in New Orleans and a two-time District 10-4A Defensive Player of the Year.
"I'm very honored to be chosen Mr. Football,'' Johnson said. "I'm very thankful to be joining the group of guys who came before me. It's a very great award. I'm just so happy about it.''
Johnson's awesome performance actually began during the offseason when he shed 25 pounds and dedicated himself to a rigorous conditioning program to make sure that there would be no repeat of a disastrous 3-6 season that was reduced to 0-9 by Louisiana High School Athletic Association violations for playing an ineligible player.
"I really wanted the team to go farther than the year before,'' Johnson said. "We had a very disappointing season (in 2009). I was very proud of my team this season. We really pushed things to the limit.''