Head coach Don Johnson seems to like challenges. This past year he took over a Madison program in complete disarray. 2014 saw the Senators shut down the season after seven games for a host of reasons, including 13 concussions and a roster which was depleted to levels deemed unplayable.
In one year’s time Johnson has resurrected the NE Portland school, with 70+ athletes competing for playing time. That said as one of the youngest teams in the state finished (2-7) in 2015.
Speaking on the current situation Johnson says, “I commend our coaches for being more than just that.. They have also been father figures. Adding, ” I have kids that have been shot, that have babies, and plenty of other issues to go with.”
He continued, “Our district AD Marshall Haskins has done a great job of guiding the PIL with a lot of challenged youth.. He has systematically helped each program within the conference find the right fit from a coaching and mentoring standpoint.”
DJ will bring back three of the Northwest’s top juniors, all of whom earned 1st team all league honors on the year. Daniel Green (6-3 228 LB/RB) is ranked the state’s top LB and will have offers from 1/2 the PAC 12, and then some, before all is said and done. Green brings a unique blend of size and speed to the table. His 165 tackles on the season speak to his ability to track down whoever has the ball. Offensively Daniel will be one of 6A’s best in 2016. He accumulated 717 yards and 5 TD’s, on 94 touches (82 rushes, 12 receptions) for the season.
Isaia Mullen (6-4 185 WR/S) should be considered one of Oregon’s top 3 wide receivers for the class of 2017. Isaia separates himself with his overall athleticism. He is incredibly dangerous in the red zone as his ability to jump and anticipate, make him a consistent TD target. His 21 yards per catch average puts his full arsenal on display. On the year he hauled in 24 catches for 502 yards, and 7 TD’s.
Wyryor (Warrior) Noil (5-10 180 ATH) is a kid that leads by example on and off the field. His 4.0 GPA only touches on how special this kid could be. He is one of the most versatile athletes in the state, playing an array of positions throughout the year. Anytime he has the ball in his hands he is a threat to go to the house. Wyryor caught 37 passes for 400 yards and 2 TD’s, before moving to the QB position to close out the season. Watch out for his younger brother Mike as he is a player as well.
More important than anything has been the work done by Johnson to help provide these kids with an opportunity where it counts. In a move only seen by the makers of the Movie “Coach Carter”, Johnson put priorities in perspective shutting down team practices prior to the Roosevelt game. After a poor showing in the classroom by a large number of players, coach directed the team to the library for the entire week. If not for a drastic improvement in making up that work, they would have not played the game.
Referencing the move Noil says, “Coach called us out and reminded us that there are certain things more important then football… He said if you don’t take care of business off the field, you won’t play for me.”
I’m not sure how many lives DJ has changed, saved, or influenced but it’s a lot. He coaches and teaches the game for the right reasons which all to often doesn’t get talked about. On the recruiting front Johnson is in a class of his own. He doesn’t want or need the praise but anyone in the know will tell you the same thing.
In closing DJ says, “I’m looking forward to having three quality D1 kids lead us next year… There are numerous athletes returning with talent on our team and within the conference.”
We look forward to seeing this Oregon trio during the off season as they project to an elite collegiate level.