‘A dream come true’ for new Englewood football coach and alum Kevin Johnson

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Kevin Johnson has come full circle.

Johnson was named as the new head football coach at Englewood High School where he once starred on the football field, basketball court and baseball diamond.

Johnson had spent the past four seasons as the defensive coordinator under Zach Harbison who took the head coaching position at Tocoi Creek in March. Now, Johnson will lead a team full of kids from his old neighborhood.

“It was honestly a dream come true,” Johnson said. “I’m an Englewood guy. I graduated from Englewood. I went there from ninth to 12th grade and it was always something that I wanted to do after college, (to) be the head coach.

“I was super excited when I got the call. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime for me.”

Johnson’s heart and history are in Englewood and the surrounding neighborhood. He grew up within walking distance of the school. Then he earned a football scholarship to Missouri before returning to Jacksonville to play baseball at UNF.

“I really just want to have a great effect on the kids from that neighborhood. I’m from that neighborhood. I used to walk to school. I went to Southside Middle School. I went to Greenville Elementary. I went to Little Englewood. So that is my community and I want to make it proud.”

As a player, he quarterbacked the Rams to the school’s only playoff victory. As a defensive coordinator, his side of the ball held the opposition to under 20 points six times in 10 games in 2023.

Johnson takes over a team that went 4-5 last year. The Rams started the year 3-1 with wins over Paxon, Menendez, and Stanton in the first month of the season. After that, five losses in the final six games included three straight games at the end of the year when the defense allowed 17 points or fewer.

Johnson wants to implement a defensive mentality across the entire roster.

“It’s really just taking those same principles that I had over the last few years with the defense and just installing it into the entire program,” Johnson said. “I don’t think it’s going to be like a big shift for the kids. I don’t think it’s going to be a difficult thing to do because they are all familiar with me. They all know me. And they all are really comfortable with this.”

When a new coach takes over, typically, one of the most important milestones is to earn the trust of the players. Johnson already has a step up on that goal and his history in the community should accelerate that as well.

“I can directly relate to them. I’m from that neighborhood,” Johnson said. “I grew up in the same income bracket as a lot of those kids. So, I can relate to a lot of the things that they go through at home. It’s not just about football. It’s really just about creating good men. And that is my main goal. I want to create good men coming out of that program that are successful in life.”