Watson passes first test

Tom Batters
Christian Watson

Brian Johnson needed somebody athletic, intelligent and poised to fill his vacant quarterback position.

He didn’t have to search for very long. The guy he had in mind was right in front of him.

Johnson, who is entering his second year as head football coach at Eureka High School, turned the quarterback spot over to Christian Watson last year, even though the junior had only played qb a couple times years ago in JFL.

“He knew very little about the quarterback position, but I knew he was the guy we needed,” Johnson said. “He is the most athletic player on our team. He’s very intelligent, and he has a cool head. We asked him if he would do it, and he took on the responsibility. He took ownership of it, and he did a great job. He never quit, and we never stopped believing in him.”

The Hornets went 0-9 last season in Johnson’s debut as coach and Watson’s as quarterback, but both player and coach said the season was not as bad as the record sounded.

“Our best game of the season was our last game of the season,” Johnson said. “That’s unusual for an 0-9 team. That shows that we were improving and that we didn’t give up. I was encouraged.”

Watson, who was voted as one of the captains even though he was a junior, said he started to feel more comfortable as a quarterback and leader late in the season.

“It (adjusting to the starting quarterback role) was difficult at first. Learning the offense was challenging, and it was tough to be a junior quarterback when a lot of the other players were seniors,” Watson said. “But, eventually, the seniors saw that I was capable of playing the position, and I started getting more comfortable with the offense.”

Watson said he has been looking forward to football season for a long time, and he never let the 0-9 season dampen his spirits last year.

“It was still fun,” he said. “You can’t beat being out on the football field.”

Johnson said everything is “on the up” at Eureka, and it is only a matter of time before he notches his first win as Hornets’ head coach.

“Everything is positive here,” he said. “The kids are excited. I’m excited. We’ve been having a lot of fun this summer, and everybody is ready to get out there and play hard.”

The Hornets open the season Aug. 27 at home against Iroquois West.

“That’s a winnable game for us,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to win that first one. That’s what we’re all gearing up for. That’s what all the work over the summer is for.”