Hopewell football’s new leader: David Johnson
by Staff Writer
A high school football coach hired this close to the season must play catch-up at a quickened pace.
All his counterparts have had all summer with their teams.
That’s not daunting to new Hopewell High coach David Johnson, whose hiring was announced on July 5.
“My style is up-tempo,” Johnson said. “I am high-energy, and I do things at a fast pace. We’ll hit the ground running and do what we have to get everyone on the same page. It’s like jumping on the treadmill, and the dial’s already been turned to about 8.”
Johnson replaced Chris Rust, Hopewell’s coach since 2005. Rust’s teams were 43-31 and reached the playoffs all six seasons. Johnson, 27, was the offensive coordinator the past three seasons at Berry Academy in Charlotte. This is his first head-coaching position.
The hiring process was delayed because of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ hiring freeze.
“It’s a speed bump, starting this late, but (Hopewell) assistants have done a great job running the daily workouts,” Johnson said.
“They’ve been doing fundamental drills, and now we’ll coach our rear ends off getting the new system in place.”
Johnson helped craft a Berry offense that averaged 35 points last season, advanced to the third round of the Class 2A state playoffs and finished 11-3.
Win or lose, Hopewell fans can expect to see plenty of passing this season.
“We ran the Spread offense at Berry, and I think we’ll bring it over here,” Johnson said. “We’ll stick with the same defense.”
Football runs deep in Johnson’s history. His father, David Sr., has coached more than 30 years on the high school, semi-pro and college levels.
“We have a real unique bond,” said Johnson, who played for Division III’s State University of New York-Brockport. “Coaching is my passion. I am very thankful and humbled by this opportunity. I saw the impact my dad had on my friends as a coach. They still call him to tell him about a job they got or a child they had.”
“When we get players as freshmen, and by the time they leave as seniors, I want to have the impact that they’re better citizens and better prepared for life, not just football.”