By BRAD STEPHENS email@example.com
Greenwood coach Chris Seabolt doesn’t hold back praise when talking about junior safety Malcolm Johnson.
“I’ve said this before and I’ll keep saying it to anyone that asks,” Seabolt said. “I think he’s the best DB in this area.”
Johnson is getting the chance to prove his talents on the other side of the ball this season, too.
He lined up at tailback late in the second quarter of the Gators’ opener at Warren East, with GHS up 14-0.
With a first-and-10 at the Raiders’ 25-yard line, Gators quarterback Jackson Adams took the snap and tossed left to Johnson. Johnson followed his blocks upfield, powered through an East arm tackle at the 10-yard line and blew into the end zone to push the Greenwood lead to 21-0.
The Gators went on to win their season opener 42-12 in the teams’ first meeting since 2008.
“The play was ‘flip seven toss,’ ” Johnson said. “The o-linemen kicked out some Warren East kids for me and I saw the hole and took it to the house.”
Johnson only carried the ball three times Friday. He was battling a thigh contusion, Seabolt said, and coaches chose to keep him on defense once GHS took control of the game.
Even with the thigh bruise, Johnson totaled six solo tackles and eight assisted tackles – tied for second best on the team with senior defensive lineman Josh Wright and behind only senior linebacker Stone Bettersworth (eight solo, eight assists).
“He’s our best tackler,” Seabolt said. “He’s our best defender.”
Johnson totaled 85 tackles last year as a sophomore to go with one interception and four fumble recoveries.
Over the offseason Seabolt talked to Johnson about working in some offensive reps. At first, the plan was for Johnson to play receiver, Seabolt said.
“We were in practice one day and he picks off a pass and runs it back and makes some of our guys miss,” Seabolt said. “I’m thinking, ‘You know what? He looks pretty good running the football. Let’s just put him at tailback and see what he can do there.’ “
Johnson worked hard on conditioning and weight training this offseason so he could play both ways.
As the season goes on, one of the area’s best defensive players could become a consistent offensive threat for Greenwood.
“I like just having the ball in my hands,” Johnson said. “I love scoring.”