I met new North football coach Ken Johnson Monday afternoon. Look for a feature story about Johnson to appear in the Beacon Journal sometime this week.
Johnson, who replaced Tom O'Neil, said he's averaging about 42 to 45 players at summer conditioning workouts. Johnson said that is an increase from the past few years.
I also talked to O'Neil on Monday. He said he stepped down after 12 seasons as head coach of the Vikings football team to spend more time with his four children (ages 2 to 11). O'Neil said he will coach boys and girls cross country this fall at North even though the Vikings did not have a team last season.
Johnson, who has been an assistant at North for the past 15 seasons, is optimistic even though the Vikings were 1-9 last season.
"We had a lot of key players injured last year," Johnson said. "Our star running back Larry Dawson was injured pretty much the whole season. He's back and healthy this year and our offense is basically focused around him."
Dawson, 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds at the University of Akron's football camp. Johnson said Dawson is the most highly recruited player at North in the past 15 years. Dawson has already received offers from the University of Akron, Army and Bowling Green State University, Johnson said. Dawson also carries a 3.8 grade-point average.
Johnson said Dawson reminds him of DeShawn Brown, a former standout running back at North and the University of Akron in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
"Larry Dawson reminds me of DeShawn Brown," Johnson said. "I think DeShawn got a lot of records here, and I'm looking for Larry to break a lot of them."