Bonita’s Johnson is a leader and has walked the walk during the Bearcat’s playoff run

“You dream of having opportunities like this,” Johnson said. “You can’t let the hype, the media or what they’re saying in the newspapers get to you. But you recognize it’s a big game, the biggest game. You don’t want to come this far and lose. You just don’t. You know how this goes: people don’t remember who finished second, they remember who won the championship.” Bonita running back Giomani Johnson

By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
Bonita High School running back Giomani Johnson was sitting at his table when Fox Sports analyst Chris McGee spoke at Monday’s CIF-Southern Section champions luncheon in Long Beach. McGee repeated a famous quote U.S. hockey coach Herb Brooks delivered to his team before beating the Soviets in the 1980 Olympics in what many consider the greatest upset in the history of American sports. Brooks said, “Great moments are born from great opportunities.” Johnson was listening and has been taking advantage of his chances during the Bearcats’ playoff run. (To continue click thread).

West Covina routed Bonita 55-21 in October to claim the Hacienda League title, but the stakes are greater Friday when Bonita (12-1) gets its rematch against West Covina (12-1) in the Southeast Division championship at Walnut High.

“It registered,” Johnson said of Brooks’ words. “You don’t get a lot of second opportunities in life, and when you do you have to take advantage of it.”

You can imagine the thoughts racing through his mind as he approaches game time. After all, his favorite movies are “Friday Night Lights” and “Remember the Titans.”

“You dream of having opportunities like this,” Johnson said. “You can’t let the hype, the media or what they’re saying in the newspapers get to you.

“But you recognize it’s a big game, the biggest game. You don’t want to come this far and lose. You just don’t. You know how this goes: people don’t remember who finished second, they remember who won the championship.”

While West Covina boasts five backs who average almost a combined 400 yards a game, Johnson checks in averaging just 46 yards (598 yards this season) and also plays linebacker.

Johnson hasn’t had to average a ton of yards, not with quarterback Garrett Pendleton averaging 186 yards passing with 21 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

The Bearcats are averaging 38 points a game, but as Johnson learned in their first meeting against the Bulldogs – when he was held to just 42 yards – this is no time of the season to have so-so performances.

When Bonita struggled in the quarterfinals against Muir, Johnson turned in his best offensive performance of the season, rushing for 100 yards and three touchdowns in a 49-25 victory that was close until the final minutes.

In the semifinals against La Serna, Johnson recovered a blocked field goal and returned it 79 yards for a touchdown to tie the score 7-7 late in the first half.

And it was Johnson who provided the exclamation point with a 1-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to seal a 21-16 victory over the Lancers.

As Bonita coach Eric Podley explained, you don’t luck into those situations. You create them and seize the opportunities.

“In previous years you wouldn’t have pictured him being a contributor or leader the way he has emerged,” Podley said. “But he wants that role, and he pushes him and his teammates in that role.

“You have to give him a lot of credit. Not a lot of kids like to embrace that, but he has, and you have to have guys like that on your team when you’re fighting for a championship.”

Pendleton was sacked six times by West Covina and the Bearcats rushed for just 69 yards.

Johnson knows that won’t get it done Friday.

“It’s very important that we run the ball and establish something,” Johnson said. “(Pendleton) has more confidence in his passing when we have a running game. It opens everything up for him.

“If we make them respect our run, it opens up the rest of our offense.”

Even though Johnson is a player who’s rushed for 100 yards only once this season – in the quarterfinals against Muir – he realizes he’ll need a similar game if the Bearcats are going to win their first championship since 1999 and fifth overall.

“I know I have to step up, and I’m ready for that,” Johnson said. “And part of my job as a leader is making sure everyone else steps up, too. I try to set a good example day in and day out. Even on campus I’m trying to set an example and keep the right mindset.”

Podley said those types of players are invaluable.

“The players respect him, and it’s not all about football,” said Podley, who gingerly has been moving around on campus because of an ailing back.

“Even in my situation in a classroom he makes sure everything’s all right. He asks If I need anything. I’m not the only one who gets that treatment; he treats everyone that way.”

Johnson said West Covina has his respect, too. He’s not predicting the Bearcats will stop the Bulldogs’ vaunted running attack or that he foresees a victory, but he is making one prediction.

“There won’t be any what ifs,” Johnson said. “They’re going to have to beat my 110 percent. They’re going to have to beat our 110 percent as a team.

“It’s that simple, we’re coming to play. If they win it, they’re going to earn it.”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email
  • Don

    Polite, respectful, well spoken, Johnson is a typical Bearcat. A true Team player, he waited his turn for three years and now here it is.

    Keep making us proud G.

  • Aaron

    Now this is a great piece. You’ve written a great piece about a great player. Giamani, we’re all proud, keep it going.


  • kh

    love the brother from another mother,
    kid always calls me pops,thats cool///
    he brings what he packs in his lunch.
    this is one of the reasons we are in the cif finales,him and the rest of the senior bunch,there all going out tonight to get some food ,thats tight,
    we are going to kick west covias ass.i am fully ready for some fun.
    no more talk,its time to rock.
    go bearcats

  • Thank you so much for this! I haven’t been this thrilled by a post for a long time! You have got it, whatever that means in blogging. Well, Youre definitely somebody that has something to say that people need to hear. Keep up the great work. Keep on inspiring the people!

  • Funny, I was thinking along the same lines. Adam

  • I am impressed, I must say. Very seldom do I encounter a blog that is both informative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. Your thoughts is important; the issue is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I’m very happy that I stumbled across this in my search for something relating to this.

  • I can see that you are an expert in this area. I am starting a website soon, and your information will be very useful for me.. Thanks for all your help and wishing you all the success in your business.

  • An amazing post, I just passed this onto a fellow worker who was doing a little research on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast because I discovered it for him.. :).. So let me reword that: Thnkx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to talk about this, I feel strongly about it and love reading more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more details? It is very helpful for me. Big thumb up for this post!

  • Pretty impressive article. I just came across your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.

  • Definitely agree with exactly what you wrote. Your explanation was undoubtedly the simplest to understand. I tell you, I usually get irritable when individuals discuss issues that these people obviously do not know about. You managed to strike the nail on the head and explained every thing with out complication. Perhaps, others can learn from this. Will more than likely be back to learn more. Cheers

  • Man! It’s like you understand my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pictures to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is great blog post. A great read. I will certainly be back.

  • 2. Outstanding information over again! I am looking forward for more updates;)

  • This read was really worthwhile, the article was absolutely amazing! Keep writing.

  • A thoughtful opinion and ideas I will use on my blog. You’ve obviously spent some time on this. Thank you!

  • LongIsland Limo and Car service by Executive Limousine of Bellmore can be a Long Island Limo business that is a totally licensed and insured. We offer timely Long Island Limouisne service for Airport Auto Service,Weddings,Evening Out On The Town, Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties, Sweet Sixteens,Funerals, and numerous other events. All of which may well be tailored to your specific requirements and wants. Executive Limousine is really a proud member of the National Limousine Association and also the owner Douglas Schwartz is the current President of the Long Island Limo Association.