As a native of Texas, football is in the blood of Grand County High School senior Dakota Johnson, a standout running back for the Red Devils this season.
Johnson, the scoring leader for the Red Devils this year, has been an avid football player since he was a young child — and that love of football, whether in his home state or here in Moab — has driven him to be the best he can be on the gridiron.
“I’ve been playing football since the third grade, and growing up in Texas that is our main sport,” Johnson said. “In Texas, you’re usually a football player and you don’t play anything else.”
Johnson has brought some Texan football work ethic with him as well; his family moved here four years ago when his father took a job in the oil industry. If he is not on the field at practice or in a game, he stresses that he works hard to stay in shape and prepare physically and mentally for game day.
“If I’m not actually on the field, I’m in the weight room lifting to get ready,” Johnson said.
That preparation has paid off, it seems, as Johnson has racked up 925 all-purpose yards and recorded 11 touchdowns in the first seven games of the season. He is also pretty feisty on defense, racking up 34 tackles and three sacks against opponents so far this year.
Coming to Utah, Johnson said, has opened his eyes to how seriously Texans take football — though he said the gridders in Moab are equally dedicated to playing at a high level.
“It’s a lot different here,” Johnson said. “When I got here I realized the difference and just how important football is in Texas. Here in Moab, we take it seriously too, though. In Texas, we used to get up early for practice at 5:30 a.m. and then again after school. There is a lot more involved in Texas football than anywhere else in the country, I think. I try to bring that work ethic with me, though.”
Even though Johnson is the offensive dynamo for the Red Devils this season, he credits the offensive line with making the team’s wins possible.
“It’s our O-line that is very experienced and are making holes for me and the other guys to run through,” Johnson said.
Johnson also added that his love of football while playing in Moab has been fostered by his close relationship with head coach Dennis Wells.
“I love coach Wells,” Johnson said. “He’s my best friend and he is always pumped no matter what sport he is coaching.”