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LCA’s Ju’Juan Johnson comes to town to battle Ruston’s defense

Wednesday, September 20, 2023
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Photo courtesy of On3 Sports

Ruston and Lafayette Christian Academy are set to meet in one of the most anticipated high school games of the year, headlined by LCA quarterback Ju’Juan Johnson, a four-star LSU commit.

Hoss Garrett Stadium could pass as a top-flight recruiting showcase when 5A No. 6 Ruston hosts 4A No. 2 Lafayette Christian Academy this coming Friday, with some of the best high school football talent in the state on display.

And it all starts with LCA’s Knight in shining armor: senior quarterback Ju’Juan Johnson, who will soon trade in his LCA garb for LSU Tiger stripes after this season.

The four-star LSU commit, and top-10 recruit in the state, has torched opposing defenses so far this season, and if he keeps up his pace, he could etch his name into the Louisiana high school record books as the all-time leader in total career yardage.

Through two games, Johnson has thrown for 538 yards, seven touchdowns, and one interception to go with 19 rushes for 206 yards and six more scores. In the season opener against Acadiana, Johnson had 462 total yards of offense with 317 passing yards and 145 rushing with eight total touchdowns. Johnson followed up with a modest 170 passing yards and three touchdowns, along with 69 rushing yards and two more scores in a week two victory against Woodlawn.

Not to be outdone, against Jesuit Friday night, Johnson rushed for 270 yards and three touchdowns with 194 yards passing and three more TDs.

And maybe the most impressive part about it is he’s not even playing quarterback at the next level. LSU wants him to play defensive back.

Former Evangel quarterback Brock Berlin’s state record for total offense (13,659 yards) has sat untouched for 24 years, but Johnson could very well meet the mark by season’s end. After three games this year, Johnson sits at 10,857 career total yards, putting the four-star prospect 2,802 yards away from the record.

But Ruston will have something to say about that when the Bearcats welcome Johnson and LCA to town for a matchup that’s set to bring national recruiting services, Power Five coaching staffs, and a massive spotlight to an already intriguing bout.

Ask fellow LSU commit Ahmad Breaux, a rangy defensive lineman who’s told Johnson directly he and his defensive teammates aren’t backing down from the challenge.

“I’m pretty excited to face Ju’Juan,” Breaux said. “There’s not many players or quarterbacks like him in the state. I’d probably put him at number one quarterback in the state and that’s not even the position he’s playing at the next level. He’s shifty. He’s kind of like chasing a chicken. You gotta get him at the right moment. I’m excited to play him. But every time I see him, we trash talk about it.”

Compared to Johnson’s big numbers in the first three games of his senior season, the Bearcats held him in relative check when the teams faced off last year in Ruston’s 35-20 win. Last season, Johnson finished 13-of-24 for 197 yards with three touchdowns and one interception while rushing 11 times for 65 yards against Ruston.

Jadon Mayfield, a senior linebacker for the Bearcats and Louisiana Tech commit, finished with a pair of tackles in last year’s meeting and said he isn’t bothered by the heightened attention on Johnson or the game as a whole.

“I’m really excited to play LCA because I think they’re a good team and that will give our team another challenge,” Mayfield said. “They’re a great team but, like always, we have one mindset and that’s to dominate the person in front of us. To me, it really doesn’t matter who’s watching or who’s there because I know I’m going to play my hardest no matter what.”

Billy Embody will be watching as a reporter covering LSU football/recruiting for On3 Sports, getting a chance to watch the future Tiger play for the first time in a live game. Through film study and word of mouth, Embody said it’s easy to tell why LSU got Johnson as one of the top targets in its 2024 class.

“I think his quickness and agility is what stands out first,” Embody said. “Usually from a recruiting services perspective, that translates well to play on the other side of the ball. I mean, we’re watching him potentially end up being the top total yardage in the history of Louisiana high school football.”

Johnson is projected to play corner at the next level and is rated as the No. 9 recruit in the state, per 247Sports Composite. Before verbally committing to LSU, Johnson weighed offers from Alabama, Florida State, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana Tech, Colorado, and others.

For those still confused as to why somebody like Johnson, who’s shown an ability to light up the scoreboard on offense, is playing defensive back in college, Embody offered an explanation.

“At the next level, he’ll be able to play some different spots in the secondary with the size he’s added before he started his senior year,” Embody said. “I think for him, long term being around his 5-11, 190 pounds at the SEC level playing quarterback is probably not something that’s in someone’s future at that height and weight. So, just the way that is, LSU recruited him for the secondary and just wanted him to be a part of that. I think he’s noted he wants the ball in his hands at LSU too so maybe they’ll work in some plays for him.”

Breaux and Johnson will have to stop elite quarterbacks on LSU’s defense next fall, which is why Breaux looks at Friday’s matchup as an opportunity to prepare his skills.

“I’m looking to learn how to deal with quarterbacks like that more because there’s not many like him right now but there’s going to be more like him on the next level,” Breaux said. “Playing against him will give me a next-level look and I’ll be able to get better.”

But after handling former Zachary quarterback and current Alabama freshman quarterback Eli Holstein along with current Ole Miss freshman Walker Howard in previous games, Breaux isn’t nervous about facing Johnson, and knows his teammates aren’t either.

“Knowing those people are going to be there really doesn’t faze me too much because at this point, four years in high school, I’m pretty used to that,” Breaux said. “I’ve played against Eli Holstein, Walker Howard, people like that. It really doesn’t faze me.”

Ruston takes on Lafayette Christian on Friday at Hoss Garrett Stadium.