Four years ago, Ju’Juan Johnson was thrust into a role at Lafayette Christian Academy he may not have been totally prepared to play.
The Knights lost starting quarterback, Ryan Roberts, to a broken arm on the first drive of the 2000 season against Acadiana.
That opened the door for Johnson, then a scrawny freshman, to officially launch his varsity career that’s reached the kind of heights that will leave him among the school’s greatest.
Johnson, an LSU cornerback commitment, took down a 24-year-old state record last Friday in LCA’s 57-21 Division II state select quarterfinal playoff victory over McDonogh #35. He became the state’s career leader in total offense with 13,662 yards, overtaking the previous mark of 13,659 by former Evangel Christian quarterback Brock Berlin.
“It was a big deal knowing that it hadn’t been broken in 24 years,” Johnson said. “I was definitely thankful and having the ability from God. I’m relieved, just knowing we don’t have to worry the record anymore and just worry about winning games.”
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Johnson compiled 350 yards of total offense and accounted for six touchdowns with his 3-yard TD run in the fourth quarter giving him a record that’s older than him.
Berlin, a former Miami quarterback, took to social media to congratulate Johnson.
“You’ve had an unbelievable career,” Berlin said. “We look forward to watching you for many years to come.”
Johnson’s contributions kept LCA (11-2) on track for another trip to the Superdome and state championship appearance. The Knights earned their seventh straight trip to the state semifinals at home Friday at 7 p.m. against District 4-4A opponent Teurlings Catholic.
Johnson, the nation’s No. 27 cornerback prospect, has been the high school version of LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels with an electrifying presence on the field that’s left many a defender in his wake and fans in awe.
“I like Jayden Daniels and how versatile he is, how he can make plays with his legs and still throws it,” Johnson said. “I try to match his games just looking at him knowing that he plays big-time SEC football. If he can do it, then I know I can do it in high school. I try to model my game after him and look up to him.
“Being a versatile quarterback, I know it’s harder for defenses having a quarterback that can scramble down the field,” Johnson said. “That’s a lot on them. My coaches are great and know that and when people come up with certain coverages, I can throw the ball or I can run it. Coach does a great job of calling plays and using me.”
For his career, Johnson’s completed 568 of 928 passes for 10,192 yards with 114 touchdowns and 36 interceptions. He’s carried the ball 467 times for 3,451 yards (7.4 yards per carry) and 50 TDs and 19 career return yards.
He’s accounted for 164 career touchdowns, leaving him four shy of the state’s all-time mark of former University High and LSU running back Nick Brossette of 167.
“He’s that special,” LCA head coach Hunter Landry, who was Johnson’s offensive coordinator for two years. “I’ve been coaching since 2010 and he’s as good as anyone I’ve been around. Just his knowledge of the game. That’s what impresses me. His ability to able to see the defense and understand what they’re trying to do, take what they give him and put his receivers in a good spot.”
This season has been a virtual highlight reel for Johnson with eight total touchdowns in a season-opening 61-38 win over Acadiana, a team that’s still alive in the Division I select state semifinals. He turned in the school’s No. 4 single-game rushing performance with 270 yards in a 51-18 victory over Class 5A Jesuit.
Johnson has thrown for 3,058 yards (178 of 262 passing) and 38 touchdowns and added 1,240 rushing yards on 135 attempts for 21 TDs.
Johnson concluded one of more the spectacular seasons in 2022 when LCA dropped a 52-48 decision to St. Thomas More in the state final. He combined for 5,487 yards and 60 touchdowns, passing for 4,140 yards and 43 TDs, and adding another 1,347 and 17 scores on the ground.
In the state final, where he was voted LCA’s game MVP, Johnson totaled 586 yards and five touchdowns on 67 offensive snaps.
Johnson helped the Knights reach the state final with an epic performance against Teurlings in the semifinals. He accounted for 649 yards (473 passing, 176 rushing) and nine touchdowns (6 passing, 3 rushing) in a 68-46 victory.
“It was different to put me in the fire that early in my career,” Johnson said of his first taste of varsity action four years ago. “It built my confidence. It showed that I could really play football and be good at it. It was definitely a gift from God knowing that’s how it happened.”
LCA put on a memorable postgame show of support for its new state record holder last week.
Johnson, spotlighted at midfield, listened intently as a list of his career statistical accomplishments were read aloud. He remained even-keel without an outward show of emotion until he learned the school was retiring his No. 7 jersey – an expected development he will savor for a lifetime.
“Oh yes, for sure,” Johnson said when asked if he was surprised. “I didn’t know they were doing that, and they did it.”