As Max Johnson grew, so too did Hazard this season.
In the opening game of the year, Johnson rushed for two yards on two carries. He caught three passes for 54 yards.
Hazard lost 24-21 to Floyd Central.
Game 2 against Danville, Johnson rushed for one yard on three carries. He caught four passes for 88 yards.
Hazard lost to Danville 27-15.
In the third game of the season against Paintsville, Johnson had no carries or no receptions.
The Tigers lost 54-0.
In the fourth game of the season against Pikeville, Johnson started to make his presence known.
He had to step in and play quarterback for Garrett Miller.
Johnson responded with 115 rushing yards and a TD on 13 carries. He completed four of his five passes for 51 yards.
The Bulldogs lost to the Panthers 43-7, but there was some progress shown in the loss.
In the next game against Phelps, Johnson was playing quarterback once again and this time he really stepped up. Johnson rushed for a season-high 224 yards and a TD. He was five of nine passing for 81 yards and a TD with an interception.
The Bulldogs earned their first win of the season 21-6 over the Hornets.
Johnson kept it going in the sixth game of the season against Whitley County in the regular season finale. He was the starting tailback for the first time all season for the Bulldogs. Johnson rushed for 153 yards and two TDs on 25 carries. He also had two catches for 81 yards and a TD.
Hazard won 25-21 and improved its record to 2-5.
In the opening round of the playoffs, Johnson had another big game against Phelps. Johnson rushed for 160 yards and on 13 carries. He also hauled in two passes for 47 yards.
Hazard won 37-14.
Then came Pikeville in the district championship round of the Class A playoffs. Johnson once again delivered with a big game. He rushed for 107 yards and a TD on 23 carries. He also came up with a pick six that sealed the Bulldogs’ win over the defending Class A state champs.
Hazard won 21-12.
In region championship round of the Class A playoffs, Johnson struggled with his worst game since becoming a starter. He rushed for 51 yards and a TD on 14 carries.
Hazard lost 39-7.
Johnson didn’t see very much time in the first three games of the season. He got thrown in as a starting quarterback to get his opportunity to get on the field and once he got that opportunity, he never let go by delivering big performance after big performance.
He might have played in all 10 games of the season, but he didn’t get big playing time on the offense until the last seven games. Basically in seven games he rushed for 889 yards and six TDs. In the first three games, he had three yards on five touches.
He also finished the season with 18 catches for 352 yards and two TDs.
On defense, Johnson finished second on the team in tackles with 77 total tackles and a team-high three interceptions with one pick six. He also forced two fumbles and recovered one.
Johnson was only a sophomore.
Expect him to keep growing next season as he will continue to take on a bigger role for the team.
Johnson proved in seven games that he is one of the top running backs in the mountains.