North Hills' 1st-year quarterback gettng plenty of support in starting role
Senior Brian Johnson will be a first-year starter at quarterback for North Hills after the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder didn't play football last fall, instead focusing on AAU basketball.
Not to worry — Johnson will have plenty of help.
“The entire program is not on Johnson's shoulders,” Indians coach Jack McCurry insisted.
Which is good, because North Hills is coming off a losing season — 4-5 overall, 2-4 in the Quad North — one of only a handful in McCurry's illustrious 35-year career.
Supporting Johnson will be a host of talented backfield mates in Tyler Reddick, Josh Hulbert and Jordan Blackmon — all seniors, all talented, all versatile.
Reddick led the team last fall with 98 carries for 650 yards and five touchdowns, and Blackmon and Hulbert combined for 57 carries, 531 yards and six more scores.
Blackmon, who was the team's leading receiver with 19 catches for 346 yards and three touchdowns, will also team with Reddick in the team's Wildcat packages. Hulbert is a reliable option in the slot.
“It makes it easier because they know what the expectations are,” said McCurry, whose Indians have reached the WPIAL quarterfinals or semifinals in seven of the past nine years. “They know what we do and the adjustments we make. They're all there to help (Johnson).”
North Hills also returns three offensive lineman: junior center Brandon Malick, senior guard Andrew Ungerman and junior tackle Colin Murphy.
Two seniors, Malik Frank and Anthony Danko, will anchor the middle of the defense from their linebacker spots, junior Kevin Koch is a returning starter at outside linebacker.
Reddick, Blackmon and Hulbert are returning starters in the secondary, with Blackmon tallying four interceptions a season ago.
“We're always sound defensively,” McCurry said. “We understand that regardless of our talent level, if we can play good defense, we're going to be in every game.”