Motor always running for Deerfield’s Johnson

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Patrick Johnson is built like a hybrid truck.

Even when the Deerfield senior football player runs out of gas, his motor doesn’t shut off.

Johnson was on display Friday against Maine South. The two-way lineman rarely came off the field in the Warriors’ 35-7 loss.

“If we are in position to score, or we need to stop someone from scoring, he’s on the field,” Deerfield coach Steve Winiecki said. “He doesn’t get a break.”

Johnson readied himself for such weekend marathons during the summer. He added extra runs to his workouts to get himself in better shape for the season.

“The first game definitely was a surprise,” Johnson said. “It’s become easier, mostly because I expect to be tired.”

Added Winiecki: “No doubt about it, playing two ways can be a shock to the system. As much as you run and prepare, it’s different. A lot of kids struggle in that first game, no matter how much they conditioned themselves.”

With each game, Johnson is getting used to the toll his body is taking. His play helped the Warriors stay with Maine South, ranked No. 1 by the Chicago Sun-Times, until early in the fourth quarter.

At 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, Johnson isn’t big — on either side of the line — but that’s football at Deerfield. Winiecki makes do by designing his systems to take advantage of the team’s toughness and quickness.

Johnson, a team co-captain with senior Jacob Balder, serves as an example of the prototypical Deerfield player.

Winiecki recalled last year’s game against Highland Park in Week 8, when Johnson, playing nose guard, tortured a Giants offensive lineman. Deerfield beat Highland Park 45-21 and went on to earn the CSL North championship.

“He was giving that guy fits,” the coach said. “There was this one play where Johnson just blew by the center, who stopped and shrugged his shoulders. It was one of the highlights of the year.”

After a season on the defensive line, Johnson now plays both ways. He’s at right guard on offense.

“I just try to make the most out of what I have,” said Johnson, also a Warriors wrestler and a shot put thrower in track. “It’s about working harder than the other guy, giving more effort. It doesn’t matter how big you are.”

Deerfield (1-2) welcomes Waukegan (1-2) for a CSL crossover contest on Friday. ~.

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