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High school notebook: Basketball standout Johnson joins Jeannette football team

Tribune-Review
| Thursday, August 10, 2017 1:06 p.m.
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Kyle Hodges | For the Tribune-Review
(Center) Jeannette's Anthony Johnson pushes the sled during practice in McKee Stadium on August 9, 2017.
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Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Jeannette's Anthony Johnson (left) after a game against Penn-Trafford on Saturday at Seton Hill.
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Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn Trafford’s John Gay muscles past Woodland Hills’ Jalen Hollerway during a football game in Harrison City on Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. Penn-Trafford won 26-7.
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Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Norwin's Sam Wexell leads her team onto the field before a WPIAL Class AAAA playoff game against Fox Chapel on Oct. 29, 2016, at Mars.
gtrJeannette08082017
Kyle Hodges | For the Tribune-Review
(Center) Jeannette's Anthony Johnson pushes the sled during practice in McKee Stadium on August 9, 2017.
gtrHSroundup01221724
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Jeannette's Anthony Johnson (left) after a game against Penn-Trafford on Saturday at Seton Hill.
ptrWHPTfootball8091716
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn Trafford’s John Gay muscles past Woodland Hills’ Jalen Hollerway during a football game in Harrison City on Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. Penn-Trafford won 26-7.
gtrSamWexell3110416
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Norwin's Sam Wexell leads her team onto the field before a WPIAL Class AAAA playoff game against Fox Chapel on Oct. 29, 2016, at Mars.

A new face was leading the pack during sprints at Jeannette’s heat-acclimatization workout earlier this week.

And while he hasn’t played the game in several years, he sure looked the part.

Anthony Johnson, better known as a newcomer to Jeannette basketball, is out for football. The incoming junior who plays basketball with high energy is just as enthusiastic and looking to make an impact in his second sport.

Johnson has not played football since middle school at St. Anne’s in Pittsburgh.

“I wanted to try something different, and a lot of my friends wanted me to play,” Johnson said. “I love the contact. I am ready to hit.”

Johnson is listed as a wide receiver and defensive end but could play tight end. He is imposing at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds.

Jeannette coach Roy Hall is eager to work with Johnson’s raw ability. Few standout athletes who come out of Jeannette play one sport.

Hall said Johnson could get college attention for football if things work out. Some forget how Terrelle Pryor committed to Pitt for basketball as a sophomore before his football career was launched into the stratosphere.

“It’s nice to see him out here,” Hall said. “You watch him in basketball and see his athleticism. He is getting better each day. We’re working on his technique. He likes to compete.”

Johnson adds length to an already-tall unit of receivers.

“We think he’ll be a hitter,” quarterback Robert Kennedy said.

Johnson sat out most of basketball season after he was ruled ineligible following his transfer from Allderdice. The WPIAL ruled his move was, at least in part, for athletic intent. Johnson’s appeal to the PIAA was denied.

Johnson was dismissed from the team at Allderdice and the state claimed he switched schools to avoid discipline, which is against PIAA rules.

He averaged 26.3 points in four games before he was sidelined.

Johnson also attended Chartiers Valley and Lincoln Park before coming to Jeannette. He has to sit out until Dec. 19 of next basketball season to coincide with his one-year “suspension,” or, the first three games.

Johnson played AAU this summer with C2k in the Under Armour Association in Ohio.

Norwin ranked

Norwin’s girls soccer team will open the season with high expectations and rightly so: The defending WPIAL Class AAA champion Knights have nine returning players who will play college soccer at the Division I or II level. But the team’s outlook has made noise outside of the WPIAL, too.

Top Drawer Soccer has Norwin ranked No. 10 in the nation in its preseason Fab 50. Norwin is the only WPIAL team ranked.

Five Norwin players started on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds’ U.S. Cup national championship U19 team: Emily Arnold (Slippery Rock), Emily Harrigan (Rutgers), Sam Wexell (Ohio), Katy Ericson (Slippery Rock) and Lexy Kendro (Duquesne). Alyssa Victor also was on the team but did not play because of a hip injury.

Victor, a Duquesne recruit, likely will miss the fall season.

Harrigan, Wexell, Kendro and Victor were All-WPIAL selections last season for the Knights (21-1-1). Norwin coach Lauren Karcher said more than 50 girls signed up for tryouts.

Football family

Penn-Trafford’s John Gay IV likely will be the go-to running back for the Warriors this season, and the senior has lofty goals — to go with his pedigree.

He is a third-generation running back.

Gay’s father, John III, was a standout rusher at Gateway before playing at Kentucky and then transferring to West Virginia. He ran for more than 3,000 yards at Gateway.

Gay III scored the winning touchdown for WVU in a 1984 upset of Doug Flutie-led Boston College, ranked No. 4 at the time. He had tryouts with the Steelers and Patriots before an injury ended his playing days.

John Gay II was a standout back for Braddock in the 1950s.

The youngest Gay ran for 568 yards last season, 153 in his starting debut against rival Norwin.

Gay wants to make his family proud and carry on the tradition.

“Definitely,” Gay said. “Now my goal is to make it to the pros.”

Gay also is the cousin of Steelers cornerback William Gay.

Monzo commits

Incoming Hempfield senior softball player Megan Monzo made a verbal commitment to play at Dickinson, a Division III school in Carlisle.

Monzo played every game, primarily on defense, last season for the Spartans, who went 27-0 and won their third straight WPIAL championship and second straight PIAA title.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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