While the 2019 season did not end as he had hoped, Fort Dorchester defensive lineman Brandon Johnson will get one more chance to play to end his prep career on a positive note.
Fort Dorchester finished this season with an 11-1 record, but that one loss, a 48-0 drubbing by Dutch Fork in the third round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs, left everyone associated with the powerhouse program with a bad taste.
As a member of the South all-star team for Saturday’s North-South all-star game in Myrtle Beach, the defensive tackle has a chance to go out with a win. As important as winning is, the opportunity to showcase his talents against some of the best players in the Palmetto State is an even bigger motivation.
“For me, this game is about representing my community and my school in front of the state and making them proud,” said Johnson, a 6-3, 280-pounder. “I owe it to my family, my coaches and everyone at home to give my best effort. Sure, I want to win. The way my season ended was disappointing. But this is an honor, to be chosen for this game. I want to show my appreciation by playing hard.”
Johnson says an added bonus to playing in an all-star setting is the opportunity to make new friends.
“Everyone here can play, that’s why they are here,” he said. “But, they also are great people. It’s been fun getting to know guys that I played against, guys from Wando, Dutch Fork and Summerville. We are a brotherhood, and I know some of these guys will be friends for life.”
Johnson spent only two years at Fort Dorchester, moving south from New Jersey when his parents retired. He made an immediate impact as a junior and helped form what many considered to be the state’s top defensive line as a senior. Johnson finished with nearly 70 tackles, including 13 tackles for loss and six sacks, this fall.
Moving into the Fort Dorchester program was a decision he does not regret.
“I knew when we met with coach (Steve) LaPrad that coming to Fort Dorchester was going to help me as a player and as a student,” Johnson said. “I played with great players and had great coaching, and my teachers were so helpful in getting me where I am today.”
An excellent student, Johnson’s academic success, combined with his football talents, led to numerous scholarship offers this fall. He will sign with the U.S. Naval Academy on Dec. 18.
“It came down to weighing my next four years versus the rest of the my life, and I know that, by attending Navy, I am set for life,” said Johnson, who plans to pursue a degree in engineering. “The opportunity was too good to pass up. I know they will prepare me for a great future off the field.”
Joining Johnson as a teammate on the South all-star team is Fort Dorchester defensive end Emmanuel Johnson. The 6-4, 255-pound prospect also will sign week with Georgia Tech after considering several other power 5 offers.
“It’s great that we are here together and getting this last chance to play again,” Johnson said.
Other local players on the South roster include receiver Brody Hopkins of Summerville, defensive end Tiquan Bright of Baptist Hill, cornerback K’ron Ferrell of Woodland, offensive lineman Hunter Powers of Berkeley, linebacker Jaleen Richardson of Timberland and defensive back Will Pickren of Wando.
Kickoff for Saturday’s game at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium is at 12:30 p.m. At halftime, the S.C. Coaches Association will name its 2019 Mr. Football award recipient.