By Gene Galin
Siler City, NC – The library at Jordan-Matthews High School buzzed with anticipation as Coach Ryan Johnson spoke during a recent Chatham County Schools high school football media event. With the backdrop of the upcoming football season and the promise of new achievements, Coach Johnson shared insights into his journey, his coaching philosophy, and the community-driven approach that has been at the heart of his tenure.
A Homecoming with Purpose
In a candid conversation with the media, Coach Johnson reflected on his decision to return to his alma mater three years ago. “This is my city. When the opportunity came open, I had to jump on it,” he explained. He emphasized the influence of Coach Mason, who coached him years ago, as one of his main inspirations and as a significant factor in his decision to become a head coach. Johnson’s experience with Coach Mason’s mentoring made him realize the importance of reaching out to young athletes and guiding them not only on the field but also in life.
Building Character on and off the Field
When asked about his greatest accomplishments at Jordan-Matthews, Coach Johnson highlighted the value he places on instilling a never-quit attitude in his players. “Not quitting is hard. It’s tough to come to places that have been struggling, tough to try to put your footprints in places that have not been successful in the past,” he acknowledged. By focusing on building character and instilling morals, Johnson aims to see his players grow into responsible individuals who give back to the community.
Fostering Faith and Fellowship
Football is more than just a sport to Coach Johnson. He has incorporated faith-based discussions into his coaching approach. Johnson believes that fostering faith and building strong values are vital aspects of helping his players develop into well-rounded individuals. Johnson emphasizes that building a strong foundation in character and faith is just as crucial as athletic skill development. “When you’re living, you’re trying to build your own obituary, not your resume,” he emphasized, underlining the significance of leaving a lasting positive impact.
Addressing the Middle School Gap
One of the challenges Coach Johnson has faced is the absence of a middle school football program in Chatham County. Addressing this gap, he’s actively engaged with community members to explore opportunities for middle school football. He had discussions with local figures, like the late Don Beane, who were passionate about youth football and worked to restart a middle school program. “We can create something that bridges that gap,” he stated. Recognizing the impact of this absence on Jordan-Matthews football, he’s been collaborating with community leaders and former coaches to lay the groundwork for potential solutions.
Bright Spots and Improvements
Reflecting on recent events like the Don Beane Jamboree, Coach Johnson highlighted areas of improvement within his team. He noted significant progress in the offensive line’s performance, and he praised the growth of players like Neil Wally, who transitioned from a non-football background to becoming a key player in just a year and a half. Players like Neil Wally and Nick Glover have showcased their dedication, with Wally making substantial gains as a running back and Glover showing persistence and leadership as a freshman quarterback. The commitment and camaraderie among his players are inspiring moments that bring smiles to Coach Johnson’s face.
A Message of Unity
With the merger of all four Chatham County high schools into one 1A/2A Mid Carolina Conference, Coach Johnson emphasized the importance of unity and community support. He sees his role as not only shaping young athletes but also fostering a sense of pride and discipline within the community. As part of his commitment to the city, he’s encouraging students to attend games by offering discounted admissions for Jordan-Matthews students.
A Brotherhood Built to Last
In a conversation with some of his players, Coach Johnson’s impact becomes evident. Players like Ernest Sykes, Nick Glover, and Neil Wally spoke of the lessons they’ve learned – from resilience to mental and physical preparation. They underscored the sense of fellowship and unity within the team, describing their bond as a brotherhood that extends beyond the field.
A Coach’s Legacy
Coach Ryan Johnson’s journey at Jordan-Matthews is about more than wins and losses. It’s about nurturing character, discipline, and values in his players. Despite challenges, he envisions a thriving team that not only excels on the field but also contributes positively to the community. He strives to make them not just better athletes but also better individuals who contribute positively to the community.
Shaping Future Leaders
Recently, the team participated in the Don Beane Jamboree, which showcased the progress and growth of the players. Coach Johnson highlighted improvements in various areas, especially the offensive line, which demonstrated significant development since previous matches. Players like Neil Wally and Nick Glover have showcased their dedication, with Wally making substantial gains as a running back and Glover showing persistence and leadership as a freshman quarterback.
- 🏈 Coach and players talk about their journey in Jordan Matthews football.
- 🏆 Focus on personal growth, teamwork, and overcoming challenges.
- 💪 Significant improvements seen in players’ skills and attitudes.
- 🌟 Emphasis on faith, life lessons, and building character.
- 🚀 Efforts to maintain football presence in the community through camps and engagement.
- 👕 Pride and fellowship associated with wearing the J-M jersey.
- 🎓 Lessons of discipline, patience, mental preparation, and teamwork from the coach.
- 🤝 Sense of unity and brotherhood among players.
- 🎥 Coach teaches the importance of mental reps and film analysis.
- 👨👧👦 Family involvement and support in football.
Watch J-M football coach Ryan Johnson and players on YouTube.
00:18 Coach’s decision to come to J-M and his main accomplishments
- Coach came to J-M because of his personal connection to the city and the opportunity
- Coach’s main accomplishment is not quitting and working hard at Jordan Matthews
02:13 The biggest thing is passing on the lessons learned and giving back to other kids.
- The coach values the morals he was brought up with by his father and coach Mason.
- He finds joy in seeing his former players succeed and pass on their knowledge.
- One player in particular, stands out as someone who has grown and excelled.
- The coach also coaches other aspects of life, not just football.
03:38 Smith wants to teach young people about faith and help them grow into better men and fathers
- Josh does a lot for the FCA and they talk about faith at SCA Camp
- Smith believes it’s important to focus on building character and not just a resume
- He wants to help the community restart a middle school program and has been working on a blueprint
05:00 Creating a championship team with an established 14U team
- Having an experienced 14U team who knows the system and coaches is a big advantage
- Don Beane, a prominent figure in kids’ activities, was honored at the recent Jamboree
- Offensive line showed significant improvement in pass protection
- Neil Wally had several long runs and the team showed good ball control
06:34 Jordan Matthews football is supporting the local community and ensuring football continues
- Involved in organizing a summer camp
- Working with the town manager and rec department
- Supporting local youth by being vocal and providing assistance
- Admissions for Jordan Matthews students reduced to $5
08:13 Neil Wally’s huge improvement as a running back
- Neil Wally joined us last year and had no prior experience in football
- He has made significant improvements in his running game during the off-season and has been a bright spot for the team
- Nick Glover, a freshman quarterback, has been working hard and keeping the team together
- His mechanics as a quarterback have improved significantly
09:38 Hard work and growth of key players
- Ernest Sykes has improved and is a valuable player
- Jayden Horton has shown growth and is now a team captain
- Wearing the J-M Jersey is a matter of pride and discipline
11:39 Key things learned from the coach
- Importance of staying positive and keeping head up during games
- Focus on mental preparation and film analysis
- Patience as a freshman quarterback
- Meaning of wearing the team uniform
- Family background in football