There was no doubt every player on the Edgewood football team wanted to bounce back after losing to No. 1 Wilcox. However, there was a little extra motivation for quarterback Alex Johnson.
During the loss to Wilcox, Johnson was ejected in the first quarter when the Wildcats held a lead and the top-ranked team in AISA took advantage of that on its way to a victory. Johnson wanted to return to the field and put on a better performance for his teammates and he did just that in last week’s win at Lakeside.
“That was very important to me,” Johnson said. “I felt like I let my team down when that happened. But it felt good to be back and I think it helped the team come together.”
Johnson threw for 136 yards and a pair of touchdown passes while completing 11 of his 13 pass attempts to lead the Wildcats to a 35-28 victory. He also recovered Lakeside’s final onside kick attempt with less than a minute to go in the game which secured a home playoff game for Edgewood. Johnson is the Elmore County Player of the Week.
“For him to come back and lead the offense the way he did just shows how important he is to the team,” Edgewood coach Darryl Free said. “He knew a mistake was made but he embraced that, put it behind him and stepped back in like we needed.”
Free said he could tell Johnson was really focused in practice all week and it paid off in the game.
After having limited possessions in the first half, Edgewood went into the break tied 7-7 with the Chiefs. However, Johnson did not waste much time as he gave the Wildcats their first lead of the night with a 45-yard touchdown pass to Kam Burleson.
“We were really able to find a groove offensively in the second half,” Free said. “When Alex hit that play to Kam, that was huge for us and it obviously allowed us to have the ball more.”
Johnson also hit Isaac Gordy for a touchdown pass in the game before turning the ball over to the rushing attack as Drez Crawford scored the final three touchdowns for the Wildcats. Johnson also added a running element to his game against Lakeside, recording 47 yards on 10 carries.
Seven different receivers recorded a catch and Johnson said he knows that makes the offense tougher to defend. The numbers may not be gaudy but Johnson’s efficiency was at its best against Lakeside.
“Alex did a good job of leading the offense and establishing drives for us,” Free said. “He was able to execute the throws when we needed him to. He only had two incompletions all night so he was very efficient and managed the offense very well. It was a good bounce back game for him.”
Johnson said he did not consider it to be one of his best games but he also admitted he never can tell when he’s having a good game in the moment. And now the game has passed, Johnson is focused on only Autauga this week and hoping for a deeper playoff run than last season.
“I really don’t feel it until after the game or when I hear my numbers,” Johnson said. “But that’s not really what it’s about; I don’t think about that stuff. Our goal was to win this game to have a home playoff game. Now we want to get another chance at the second round.”