Football: Johnson gets ready for Year 20 with Longmont

Doug Johnson is 144-72 at Longmont

Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
Coach Doug Johnson works with the team on June 27, 2019. Doug Johnson is coming into his 20th season as Longmont head football coach.
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People come and go — which feels like a sentiment more appropriate a few clicks over in ‘News’, but it’s nonetheless true in the sports section.

In high school athletics, meanwhile, it’s merely a byproduct of the whole child-becometh-grownup process.

Every year, wide-eyed athletes roll in while seniors roll out. Sometimes they leave behind coaches who helped mold them. And sometimes their coaches depart first. According to the Colorado High School Activities Association website, in football alone more than 30 high schools around the state will go with different coaches this fall.

With turnover like that, staying power can serve as a cleansing breath.

Over at Longmont, Doug Johnson is preparing for his 20th season as the head football coach of the Trojans.

The longtime front man of the program has a 2-to-1 win-loss ratio in his tenure at 144-72. It’s the three P’s, though — “the prayer, the people and the players,” he said — that have kept him coming back for more.

Under Johnson, the Trojans have made six straight trips to the postseason and have 12 consecutive winning seasons.

The one thing missing has been a state title.

Johnson’s 2009 squad was one of the closest to grab it when they upset a highly-touted team from Wheat Ridge before falling to Heritage in the 4A championship game. They also went to the finals in 2014.

“Of course, I’d love to win a state championship, that’s always the ultimate prize,” Johnson said. “But I think coming into the season from a win-loss perspective (the goal) is to get to the playoffs. You can’t win a state championship if you don’t get to the playoffs, so that’s kind of been our goal.”

Heading into the fall following a first-round exit in 2018, Johnson said his players have been arriving at Everly-Montgomery Field at 7 in the morning for offseason workouts.

The early starts, he notes, are designed to give his players a quick taste of adulthood.

“I want them to have a real impression of what a life looks like once you get out,” he said. “And that’s Monday through Friday you get up and you go to work. I think at first, they hated it. But now, I think they kind of like it — it is tough getting out of bed that early, though.”

Teaching life through football. It’s been a staple of what Johnson has tried to do at Longmont for more than two decades.

He first took a position with the program as the C-team coach in the early 90s. He moved up from there to become the defensive backs coach, then the defensive coordinator, before taking over in 2000.

Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
Under the guidance of Doug Johnson, Longmont has reached the state championship game twice in the past 11 years.

Since then, Johnson said he and his assistant coaches have pursued in making the Trojans the “cleanest and the meanest” team in football. More than that, though, their hope is to get the full potential out of his players on and off the field.

“You want to be as good as you can be,” Johnson said.

“I tell our coaches to coach them like he’s your brother or coach him like he’s your son. … If you measure by that principle, it’s kind of like I’m going to do unto these kids as if they were my family.”

Johnson trails only Fairview’s Tom McCartney and Monarch’s Phil Bravo as area coaches with longer football coaching tenures at one school.

Longmont will begin the year at Fort Collins Aug. 14.