Cleveland's Junior Varsity football has memorable season
The secret to a winning high school football team may well come from the future high schoolers still in middle school – at least, that may the case for Cleveland High School (CHS), in coming seasons!
"The Cleveland Junior Varsity football team is made up of seventh graders and a couple of eighth graders, on track to eventually play for CHS – although no one knows if all of them really will go on – but, that's why they're participating in this team," explained parent and assistant coach Scott Idler, before a team practice on November 1.
"Our players, about 19 in all, come from Sellwood, Winterhaven, and Hosford Middle schools – the schools that feed into CHS," Idler explained. "Our big story is that after seasons of not doing well, this year they have eight wins and zero losses going into the playoffs! That's a special thing – and we believe it's all due to our great coach."
As the young athletes suited up for practice, that head coach, Edward Leland Johnson, came onto the field.
Asked by THE BEE how he's turned the team around this season, Coach Johnson dismissed the notion: "I think coaching is overrated. The difference is that we are teaching this year; starting with the fundamentals of the game of football.
"At first people criticized because we didn't do a lot of 'hitting, banging, and running' – instead, we were teaching movement, hand placement, and how to keep your body at the lowest center of gravity, because this game is more about leverage than it is impact ability.
"The other part, though, is having good, smart players; we have intelligent kids that have applied what they've learned immediately – right now – and that makes it possible to cultivate these kids into good football players," commented Johnson.
Subsequently, due to injuries, the team lost its playoff game on November 3. "While we didn't win, we did have a great season, and we are very proud of what the entire team accomplished all season," Johnson later told THE BEE.