Ben Johnson always considered wanting to be a head football coach at the high school level, but when he got a taste of it in 2020, that desire became a top priority.
When former North Side coach Mike Brevard was dealing with Covid issues late last season, Johnson stepped up from his offensive coordinator position to lead the Legends for a few weeks – including the Week 9 game against Concordia Lutheran.
“The support I got from the administration (during that time) made me feel comfortable,” said Johnson, who was approved as the next head coach at North Side on Monday night. “I knew I could be a head coach, but to be able to experience what that means and how it would be, it made me feel good.
“I didn’t even know that Coach Brevard would maybe leave, but I felt afterwards that I could do this.”
Now, Johnson will get the chance to prove he has what it takes to supplant Brevard. He is a career 1-0 in his head coaching career, with the Legends having knocked off the Cadets 14-7 in that Week 9 contest. After a single season as OC within the program, Johnson hopes to continue the positive momentum at North, with Brevard having led the team to more wins each year from the season before in each of the last three campaigns.
Despite being just 29 years old, Johnson is a veteran of SAC sidelines. He coached running backs for three years at Bishop Luers, followed by three seasons as the offensive coordinator under Coach Derrick Moore at Wayne before coming over to North Side in 2020.
For Johnson, the environment at North Side endeared him to the place in just a single year.
“North Side is very family oriented because of the culture that Coach Brevard had set up,” Johnson said. “The kids gravitated towards me, we have great parents and community support.
“The biggest key is to keep our culture going – turning boys into men and men into leaders.”
North Side finished 5-6 last season and will need to replace the record-setting Duce Taylor at quarterback, as well as guys like Ja’suan Lambert, Aspen Pippert-Board, Jacob Lambert and Arieon McCarter.
“I am excited about our kids, which is another reason why I wanted the job,” Johnson said. “We lose some guys, but we have Jordan Turner, Rodney Woods, Ryan Collins as seniors, all guys who are three-year starters. Our younger guys are good too, with Tae Johnson in my opinion the most dynamic freshman in the state. We lost some big names, but we have some kids who are ready.
“I am ecstatic. This is a dream come true.”