PREP PROFILE: Jonah Johnson aiming to wrap up Knight’s career with a bang

Jonah Johnson looks for a cutter during a game against Lakeview on Dec. 21, in Cottonwood.

RUTHTON – If anybody has seen Jonah Johnson play the game of basketball, you’ve probably seen him dive on the ball for a loose ball, or play physical defense. That physicality and hustle translate well to the football field, where Johnson plays linebacker and tight end for the Russell-Tyler-Ruthton Knights.

“It’s the only sport that you get to hit somebody else in and not get in trouble for it,” Johnson said. “That’s what I like about the game.”

This fall will mark the start of a new era for the RTR football program. It will be their first year playing nine-man football.

While the style of play will change, the faces will mostly remain the same for the Knights. They return the core of a team that finished last season with a 3-5 record. The Knights will get their first taste of nine-man football on Aug. 31, at home against Renville County West. It will be the start of what Johnson hopes to be a special season for the Knights.

“We are setting the bar pretty high,” Johnson said. “We’d like to have a good playoff run and potentially go to state. We don’t have a whole lot of experience with nine-man, but we are going to make the best of it and have fun playing.”

The Knights are hoping to build off last year’s success after having two straight winless seasons prior to the three-win season a year ago. Johnson said unlike year’s prior the Knights have shown a commitment to the weight room this offseason.

“I’m working on my speed,” Johnson said. “We started a new program in our weight room. That’s kind of started up a culture in there. We live in the weight room in the summer. We get there in the morning and spend a couple hours in there.”

On the hardwood the Knights fell one game short of reaching the section championship last season. The Knights lost two seniors, but return a talented core from a team that finished the season with a 21-5 record.

With four of the five starters returning the Knights will be one of the best team’s in the area this winter. Johnson said the team’s goal is to reach the state tournament for the first time in 12 years.

“We had a great season and lost two good senior leaders,” Johnson said. “We’d like to get past that game and get to the section championship and then go to state. That’s our goal this year.”

Johnson averaged 8.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game last year. This offseason Johnson is working on improving his jump shot.

“I’ve been working on my jump shot,” Johnson said. “I sort of lacked that last year. We will face a lot of teams that run zone, so I’ve been working on my midrange game.”

The end of the upcoming basketball season will mark the end of Johnson’s prep sports career at RTR. Johnson said he’ll miss taking the court and field in front of the RTR crowds.

“I’ll miss the fans for sure,” Johnson said. “They come and support us every game. It’s not like anything else. You just get this vibe when you go out on the court and hear the fans cheering. That’s what I’ll miss the most.”