CHEYENNE – Andrew Johnson’s introduction to varsity football was forgettable.
The Cheyenne Central junior was lined up across from Thunder Basin wide receiver Blaine Allen, who caught four passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns.
“That was a rough game, but it was an experience I needed because it showed me how much harder I was going to have to work if I wanted to be successful at this level,” Johnson said. “I took that as a challenge. I worked really hard in the offseason and set my goal for the first game against Thunder Basin to not let him have a reception.”
Allen didn’t have a reception in this year’s season opener. Johnson also corralled a pair of interceptions in the Central loss.
Johnson is now the one doling out learning experiences.
On Friday, he caught nine passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns to help the Indians beat Campbell County 45-22. Those efforts also earned Johnson Prep Athlete of the Week honors from WyoSports’ Cheyenne staff.
Having to face Allen right out of the gate set the tone for this season.
“We were watching film from last year’s game, and we kind of challenged (Johnson),” second-year Central coach Mike Apodaca said. “We said, ‘Hey, this is what it looked like last year. We think you’re the type of athlete who can compete with a kid at this level.’
“He took that to heart and had a great game. He likes the competition. He has really grown and matured.”
Johnson was second in Class 4A in receiving yards per game entering the Campbell County contest. He has become a versatile player for the Indians.
“He is by far the most dynamic player we have,” Apodaca said. “He does a little bit of everything well. He is a guy we can make a deep threat, he is a guy we can throw screens to, he is a guy we can run jet (Sweeps) with, and we have had him in the wildcat a little bit.”
Johnson relishes the opportunity to help the Indians in a variety of ways.
“I love being a utility player because that means I’m helping the team however it needs it,” he said. “That’s a great role to have.”
Johnson also wrestles for Central, and was the starting center fielder for the Cheyenne American Legion Post 6 baseball team this past summer. Those experiences have helped Johnson become a well-rounded athlete, Indians senior quarterback Dawson Macleary said.
“He is a natural-born athlete,” he said. “You can stick him anywhere and he’ll be good. He will do everything he can to win. He is one of the most competitive guys I know.
“He is outgoing and loose, but he is a grinder who works his butt off.”
Others recognized for their efforts include:
Christian Anderton and Graedyn Buell, football, Cheyenne East: Anderton, a senior, rushed for 148 yards and three touchdowns during the Thunderbirds’ 55-7 victory over Cheyenne South.
Buell, a junior, completed 13 of 16 passes for 222 yards and four touchdowns.
Kira Brownell, Sally Osterman and Christa Vanlandingham, girls swimming, Central: All three athletes won two events during the Lady Indians’ 146-40 dual win over Cheyenne East.
Ky Buell and Ashley and Hailey Marshall, volleyball, East: Buell, a senior, dished out 43 assists to help the Lady T-Birds pick up Class 4A East Conference wins over Laramie and Cheyenne South.
Ashley Marshall, a junior, added 37 assists in those matches.
Hailey Marshall, also a junior, recorded 23 kills. She added 12 digs against Laramie.
Ethan Cates, boys golf, Central: The senior placed second at the Wyoming Class 4A state tournament.
Cheyenne Central tennis: The boys won four divisions to finish atop the team standings at the South Regional tournament, taking top honors in No. 2 singles, and No. 1, 2 and 3 doubles.
The Lady Indians won the team title thanks to wins at No. 1 and 2 singles and No. 1 doubles. They also got runner-up finishes at No. 2 and 3 doubles.
Brendan Lock, boys tennis, Cheyenne South: The senior won his fourth consecutive South Regional No. 1 singles title.
Dawson Macleary, football, Central: The senior completed 20 of 29 passes for 315 yards and five touchdowns in a 45-22 win over Campbell County.
Cactus Rogers, boys cross-country, East: The junior won the Mercury Invitational in Brighton, Colorado, finishing in 17 minutes, 58 seconds.
Savanna Stoddard and Sydney O’Brien, girls tennis, East: Stoddard and O’Brien won the No. 3 doubles title at the South Regional tournament.