Johnson sets sack record at South Iredell
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Monday, Nov. 18, 2013

Johnson sets sack record at South Iredell

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Vikings senior defensive end Aquevious Johnson

For three years, Aquevious Johnson patiently waited his turn.

This summer, he worked eight-hour days and still made it to all of South Iredell’s football workouts, often being one of the last to leave.

In Johnson’s junior season, the Vikings coaching staff began to realize they had something in the 5-foot-7, 180-pound nose guard.

Only one problem – the Vikings’ defensive line was already loaded with proven players.

So he mostly watched from the sidelines – occasionally seeing time on the field as a backup – last season, as South Iredell went 14-2 and won the NCHSAA 2AA state championship.

“It was frustrating not playing the game you love,” Johnson said. “Going to practice every day and working as hard as you can, but I just kept going, and eventually I got my chance and I’ve made the best of it.”

During last week’s 23-19 loss to Statesville, Johnson recorded his 14th sack of the season, setting a Vikings single-season record.

“I wasn’t really starting off this season looking to break any records,” said Johnson, who had to be told after the game that he’d set the new mark. “I was just playing, and it happened to come. I was just trying to help my team win a game.”

The senior entered postseason averaging seven tackles a game. Johnson has recorded at least half a sack in eight of 11 games this season, while bringing down the opposing team’s quarterback three or more times on three separate occasions.

“We had a pretty good defensive line on that state championship team last year,” South Iredell head coach Scott Miller said. “Johnson was there in a supporting role and came in once in a while for us, but even through the season last year and more so this summer, our offensive line coach talked about how good he thought he was going to be because everyone on our line had always had problems blocking him and containing him.”

Finally given a chance to start, Johnson didn’t waste any time showing the Vikings what they’d been missing, recording four sacks in a 44-9 win over South Rowan on Aug. 23.

“I just work really hard at trying to get past people,” Johnson said. “I’m always trying to find new moves, and my teammates playing well around me has helped me to be able to go out there and just make plays.”

Johnson followed his Week 1 performance with three more sacks in a 14-12 win over Hickory on Aug. 30.

“We knew people would probably overlook him at first because of his size,” Miller said. “But when you watch him on film, he’s that good, and every game he’s just flying all over the place. He demands people’s attention.

“It all comes from his technique and his willingness to work hard. He doesn’t take plays off. He just does everything he’s supposed to. He’s a little bulldog in there, and size doesn’t matter to him. He’s got a low center of gravity and a motor that won’t quit.”

Before this season began, Johnson pulled Miller aside.

“He told me that he wanted his senior year to be something that could help the team out and one to remember,” Miller recalled. “He never wanted to look back and think, what if he had only gone harder. I can tell he took that idea to heart.”

With South Iredell playing up a class this year – moving from 2AA to 3AA in last year’s realignment – Miller’s glad to have Johnson on his side of the field as the Vikings (8-3; 4-3) look to repeat as state champs.

“We’ve always used smaller guys at nose guard,” Miller said. “But ‘Quaves’ is different. We haven’t had someone get to the quarterback and make nearly as many sacks as he has. He’s performed well above what most people think he should.”

Seth Lakso is a freelance writer for Lake Norman News. Have a story idea for Seth? Email him at sethlakso@gmail.com .

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