In a recent interview, Millsap Head Football Coach Jake Johnson answered questions about his playing days, as well as his time leading the Bulldogs.
Question: Favorite memory as a player?
Answer: My senior year at Douglas County High School (Georgia), we were playing in a huge game. It was the last one of the year, and whoever won made the playoffs. And we won. It was a last-minute win. I remember our fans stormed the field afterwards. I’ll never forget, that was one of my favorite high school memories.
Q: Favorite memory as a coach?
A: My favorite memory as a coach was in 2005, going into a state championship game in Missouri, and ironically enough, one of my players from that team coaches with me now.
Q: Most memorable win in your coaching career?
A: When I was at Arlington Heights, we beat Birdville in the first round of the playoffs in 2011. I think going into that bi-district game, we were a 30-point underdog, and we beat them 14-13. We blocked their extra point attempt to maintain a one-point lead.
Q: How do you move past a tough loss?
A: The first thing is, you’ve gotta let it hurt, and I tell the kids that. It should hurt. If it doesn’t hurt then something’s wrong. I tell them that’s normal, so that day or night, let it hurt. However, when you wake up the next morning, it’s time to move on, and we move on by going back and not dwelling on what we didn’t do, but finding the positives of what we did and building on it. That’s how I move on, and that’s how I tell my coaches we have to move on as a program.
Q: Most difficult position to play in football?
A: Center, because you have to throw a perfect pass to the quarterback between your legs without looking at him, you’re identifying the defensive front, you’re calling the protection for everybody and then a lot of times, defenses’ biggest, strongest athletes are at nose tackle, and their job is to get past the center or disrupt the snap. Or you’re gonna have to climb to the second level and block a really athletic linebacker, so there’s a lot that goes into playing center. They are near and dear to my heart.
Q: Favorite sports coach?
A: My favorite sports coach is probably Coach Charles Thomas. He was my football coach when I first started playing when I was in the sixth grade. And Coach Charles let me fall in love with football. He let all of us. We were a good little team, but he taught us to love the game of football first and have fun playing. I’ve never looked back. He coached me when I was 10 and 11 years old, never coached me since, and last year I talked to him again, he still lives in Georgia.
Q: Favorite NFL player?
A: Larry Csonka. When I was little, I wanted to be a running back. Obviously the good Lord had other plans. But I love the way Larry Csonka ran. He ran like he was mad at you, kind of like an Earl Campbell. I loved watching old Larry Csonka film.
Q: Favorite NFL team?
A: Miami Dolphins, without a doubt. I don’t know why, I just always grew up loving the Dolphins from as early as I can remember. And I told my kids, ‘I’m not going to make you be Miami Dolphins fans. Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m gonna let you pick your team, but whoever you pick, you’ve gotta stick with them. Except the Ravens, we’re not allowed to root for the Ravens.’ But I’m a Miami Dolphin all the way.
Q: Alternate sport to coach?
A: Probably wrestling. My son likes to wrestle. I also enjoy coaching track, you really get to work with kids on an individual basis and build that relationship with them.
Q: Describe coaching in five words or less?
A: A calling and a ministry.