CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Hopewell head coach David Johnson has been full speed ahead since being hired in late June as the Titans football coach. Calling his job “a dream come true,” he typically arrives at the high school about 6:30 a.m. and doesn’t head for home until 9 p.m.
“I’m trying to make up for all that lost time, not with the kids so much, but being the head coach,” said Johnson, who replaces Chris Rust. “We are looking at easily 15 to 16 hour days, but I enjoy it. Football is what I love to do.”
Johnson, 26, applied for the opening in February, but initially thought his chances of taking over for a program that has reached the playoffs six straight years were slim to none.
But since getting the opportunity, the former Berry High School offensive coordinator has made his stamp on the program in a big way.
Spread offense, meet Hopewell football. Hopewell, meet the spread offense.
“We are going to be wide open. We are going to throw it around,” a giddy Johnson said.
Senior Chandler Chase, last season’s varsity backup quarterback, is competing with junior TyJuan Sifford for the starting spot under center—an incredibly important position if Johnson wants to spread the field through the air.
“Right now it’s neck and neck,” Johnson said of the battle. “Both of them are extremely athletic, so whichever one of them doesn’t win the job…they are both a little bit too athletic not to be on the field.”
Johnson will know more about the position battle after Friday’s scrimmage against Alexander Central High School. Whoever is not named starter will join a deep list of talented wide receivers, including 6’6 Darius Small, who is expected to be a key down-field threat despite not playing last season.
A trio of sophomores will see action as the slot receiver. The Titans’ point guard on the basketball team, Chris Strickland, joins, Jacquez Williams and Dominique Heath, the younger brother of star running back Denzel Heath.
All in all, Hopewell will have at least three receivers 6’4 or taller, and plenty of fresh targets will be in the huddle each quarter.
We’ve got a staple of receivers. They are all going to get significant, significant playing time. They all bring something unique,” said Johnson.
The elder Heath, meanwhile, will see action on the defensive side of the ball, too, as a safety. One of the top recruits in the area, Heath will join fellow tailback Dondre Lewis-Freeman this fall. While top colleges continue to recruit Heath, he’s nowhere close to deciding where he will go.
“Right now Denzel is wide open," Johnson said. “I don’t think he’s anywhere near a commitment. It’s going to play out. A lot of colleges, including ourselves, are still deciding what side of the ball he’s going to play on.”
The Titans have six home games this season, and open with Providence on August 19.
8/26 East Lincoln
9/2 @ Ardrey Kell
9/16 West Charlotte
9/23 @ Hough
9/30 Lake Norman
10/14 @ Mallard Creek
10/21 @ Vance
10/28 North Mecklenburg