SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) – Records are meant to be broken. But for the Salem Quaker’s standout senior quarterback Jackson Johnson, he would swap all those prestigious records for a championship football season.
“It’s a cool thing to look back on, but if you don’t win that game in that week, the records don’t really matter,” Johnson explained. “If we don’t have a good season, those records, whatever we get, don’t really mean anything.”
As just a 14-year-old freshman back in 2019, Jackson started his first varsity football game in week 7 of that year, replacing senior Niko Walter as the Quakers signal-caller. Remarkably, he helped to lead the Quakers to a 3-1 record in the final four regular season games and helped them qualify for the OHSAA playoffs. Although the Quakers would suffer a loss to CVCA in that playoff encounter, it was a foreshadowing of what a dynamic player the Quakers processed.
“I mean, I have been around high school football for my entire life,” Johnson explained as a son whose father has coached for 35 years. “So, it was something I had to get used to. My skillset from my freshman year to my senior year is a lot different. My body frame is a lot different. It was different from junior-high or freshman football, but it was something I was able to adjust to.”
Johnson has improved with age as he has developed a better understanding of both the game and what is happening around him. Those improvements have helped make the Quakers’ offense lethal as they have lit up the scoreboard the past three years.
“The part of my game that I have improved the most is in controlling the game. Managing the game. We call a lot of our plays at the line, and I re-check the plays at the line to make sure we are all on the same page,” Johnson said. “My freshman and sophomore seasons, I don’t think we could have done that. My senior year, we can.”
The standout senior holds just about every Quaker game, season and career passing record. This year, he has his eyes on breaking the school rushing record.
Johnson needs just 491 yards rushing this upcoming season to set the new mark, and eight touchdowns to break the record for rushing scores. If he exceeds 1,000 yards by rushing the ball this year, it would mark the first time in school history that someone has surpassed that milestone three years in a career.
Last year, Johnson completed 243 of 340 passes for 2,905 yards and 33 touchdowns. He also had 193 rushing attempts for 1,321 yards and another 20 touchdowns.
Johnson already holds the record for passing yards in a game (434) and a season (2,905) from last year He also holds the career mark of 6,740 yards passing, which he will continue to add to that total this year. In addition, he has set the mark for touchdown passes in a game at 7, in a season with 33, and for a career with 77, which again he will no doubt add to that total this season.
Although all of those records are astonishing accomplishments for Johnson, he has other goals in mind for not just himself, but his Quakers team.
“We want to win the league (Eastern Buckeye Conference) this year, and go deep in the playoffs,” Johnson cited. “We want to make a deep run. We have some young guys that will play some key roles this year and they need to step up. We upperclassmen need to lead and guide them in the right way. We have always been a winning class, so we need to be 1-0 each week.”
The Quakers will try to take the first step toward a championship season on Thursday, August 18, when they host the Crestview Rebels at Sebo Stadium. The kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.