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Faces in KS: Cael Johnson

Cael Johnson looking for a huge senior year for Burlington. (photo: Grace Hess)
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
Sep 12, 2019

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Burlington senior Cael Johnson is looking to be one of the top small school multiple sport athletes in Kansas for 2019-2020.

He already has a pretty good start on that in his career as the football player and wrestler has shined in his first three years of high school so far.

Johnson earned state runner up honors last season in wrestling last season at 152 pounds in the loaded Class 4A, losing to undefeated state champion and now Division I wrestler Korbin Riedel of Tonganoxie. He took third as a junior and was the regional champion as a freshman. He is also on his way to becoming a four-time Pioneer League champion in the sport.

Johnson will look to wrestling after football because right now he is making big plays as the Burlington quarterback and safety. He has earned some type of all league honor every year since his freshman season. He was a non-senior pick all-state selection as a defensive back in 3A last season from Sports in Kansas. Johnson has over 200 tackles in his career with nine interceptions from his defensive back spot. As he directs the single wing offense as a quarterback he has 1,654 yards rushing entering the year. Johnson opened up Friday with 152 yards rushing with four touchdowns and also threw for 72 more yards as Burlington defeated Council Grove, 46-20 . On defense, Johnson had nine solo tackles. He entered the year as one of the “25 to Watch” across the state from Sports in Kansas.

It’s much more than sports for Johnson though. He has a 3.91 GPA and tells us science is his favorite subject in school because he likes to figure out how things work in the world. He plans on competing in a sport at the next level and would like to major in pre-law.

Burlington, led by head coach John Petrie, takes on traditional 1A power Olpe (1-0) this week at home. We caught up with Johnson below in the latest Q&A edition of Faces in Kansas.

This feature is presented by Xyngular, proud to support Cael Johnson and the Burlington HS football team! 

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Q&A w/ Johnson

How did you get involved in football?

  • I was involved in football my whole life. My father has been a football coach his whole life so I have grown up running around football practices and learning the game. I started competing when I was in 4th grade and immediately fell in love with the game. My dad also coached my PeeWee tackle football teams.

What are your goals this season?

  • My goals for this season are to lead my team deep into another playoff run. Two years back Connor Jeffers was my quarterback and pushed us to the regional championship where we lost a close game to Topeka Hayden. There is nothing like playing football deep into the fall. Individually I want to be an All-State running back along with a defensive safety.

Do you guys have a shot to make a run this year?

  • I believe that we have a very good shot to make a deep run, with this comes hard work and not being selfish. The group that we have pulled together this year loves playing the game of football and we have that natural chemistry together that all good teams need.

What makes you such a force as a player?

  • What makes me such a force is how hard I work and not wanting to get beat. I don’t care what I am doing whether it be school, practice, a game, or conditioning, I want to outwork everyone. When someone is more athletically gifted than me on the field it doesn’t matter because by the end of the game I will wear them down and physically outwork them.  

What’s the atmosphere like to play football on Friday night for your school and town?

  • Playing on a Friday night in Burlington is unbelievable. The energy around the school just seems to have a buzzing energy that it’s Friday. Losing this feeling is something I will miss incredibly when I finish my high school career. To walk into our stadium and play for the town and the school is something that I take great pride in.

For anyone that hasn’t seen one of your games, why come to one?

  • I think that if anyone comes they will see just how hard I truly work on the field. I believe in the statement to be great away from the ball. This means that even if I am not getting the ball that there is still a job to be done. I won’t ever give up on one of my teammates or leave them out to dry on being lazy on a block. They will also see how a small school kid runs the ball and competes at the next level. 

Who are other key players on your team?

  • I have a hard time just naming individual names, but I think that my whole offensive line deserves to be said. Without these athletes nothing in the back field can happen. Other key players in the backfield are Braden Sloyer, Gavin Price, Caden Berkenmier, and Brennan Brown.   

Favorite thing about football?

  • What I love about football the most is being able to go out and completely dominate other teams. Also, I like how physical the sport is. Finishing a hard-fought game on top is a great feeling.

Do you play any other sports, tell us about that, what other positions do you play?

  • Along with football I also wrestle. I love wrestling just because how tough the sport is and how it helps with life. Because of my wrestling background I feel it puts me one step above everyone else in being able to work hard and be physical. 

What is it like to play for your coach?

  • My coach loves the game and loves making men out of boys. I like how he does things and the intensity he brings to practice. If not working hard enough he will definitely be there to get on to you about it and respect that.

What did you and the team do in the off-season to become better?

  • Every day during the week my team and I were in the weight room working out. Also, I competed and wrestled in the offseason to stay in shape. On weekends, the backs and I would go out to the football field and play 7 on 7 and run routes to get back in the football mood. We also hit some camps and scrimmages as a team to get ready for the season.

What interest are you seeing at the next level and what are your plans?

  • I am very interested at competing at the next level and also pursuing a degree in Pre-Law. 

Favorite thing to do when you aren’t playing sports?

  • When I am not competing, I like to work out and get stronger. Also, I like fishing, hunting, and being outdoors too.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

  • I see myself out of school and practicing law. I see myself also making a very good amount of money and being able to meet my goals and dreams as an adult.

Favorite subject in school, what type of student are you, GPA?

  • My favorite subject in school is science. I like learning and figuring out how things really work in the world and why they work that way. I am a student that works very hard and takes pride in the work they do and turn in. I also have a 3.910 GPA.

Who is your role model?

  • My role model is my dad. He works harder than anyone I have ever known and takes care of my family. I can also credit my athletic ability to him due to the fact he pushes me to work harder and get better every second I can. I was never the best athlete when I was younger but he got me in the weight room and pushed me to become better and learn how to compete at a higher level than what I thought I could.  

Best place to eat in your town or the surrounding area?

  • I think the best place to eat in my town is definitely my mom’s kitchen. “There ain’t nothing like momma’s cookin,” me and my brother always say.

One thing the average person wouldn’t know about you?

  • There is a lot of hard work behind the athlete that I am today.

Anything else to add?

  • My grandpa has been to every football game, wrestling match, and important time in my life that I have ever had. He shows up an hour before every game just to watch me warm up because he refuses to miss any moment of me competing.