The new Coach Johnson

More than a decade after his playing days ended, Derrick Johnson was back in the state finals.

This time, the former Harrodsburg lineman could only watch from the sideline in his role as an assistant coach for Lexington Christian. Johnson was relaying the defensive signals to the field for the Eagles, who lost to Beechwood 38-35 in the Class 1A championship Friday in Louisville.

Johnson is in his second year on the LCA staff, following in the footsteps of his father, longtime Harrodsburg coach Alvis Johnson. “The coaching bug bit me. Dad tried to talk me out of it, but it’s in my life,” he said.

It was only a few minutes after the Eagles lost a hard-fought game, but Johnson flashed his trademark smile as he talked about seeing the coach-player relationship from the opposite side.

“Their attitude is great, and we’ve got kids who work real hard. They do what we tell them to,” he said. “I can see now if you do what the coaches tell you to, it works. It’s different on the other side.”

But while Johnson relishes his role as a coach, he said it doesn’t quite equal the thrill he got from playing in a title game, as he did with Harrodsburg’s 1996 team. “I like being on the field,” he said. “I’m a player at heart.”

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Levi Rogers of Lincoln County was recognized Friday as the Class 5A, District 7 player of the year. Sam Harp of Danville (Class 2A, District 4) and Larry French of Lincoln County (Class 5A, District 7) also received coach of the year awards for their respective districts from the Kentucky Football Coaches Association.

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