CRESTVIEW — Chris Johns doesn’t consider himself a star linebacker.

He insists he’s not Crestview’s own Bobby Wagner or Luke Kuechly. If he was, the Bulldog senior would be too humble to admit it.

But given Johns is one of just three defenders to crack the Dandy Dozen in 2019, he’s clearly doing something right.

As a junior, Johns recorded 44 tackles, including three tackles for loss, and recovered three fumbles, earning a spot on the All-Area Second Team.

And although he might not be a star, he said he’s ready to step up as a leader, filling in a role left open now that linebacker Dakota Matthews and safety Marcus Purcell

“We have good linebackers like Harmon (Estes), Willie (Harrison) and Marcus (Patterson),” said Johns, who is entering his third year as the starting strongside linebacker. “They’re all good, and we’re all a team. Imma lead ’em, make sure they’re good in the big moments. Just coach ’em up, and we’ll be good.”

In addition to his duties at linebacker, Johns will also back up running back Taylor Scarbrough, helping out on offense for the first time since middle school. A self-described power back, he added five pounds of muscle this offseason to help make the transition.

“When I was in middle school, I used to love offense and only offense,” Johns said. “When I got to high school, they put me on defense and my mindset changed. I love defense, but the love for offense is always there.”

And as a three-year starter at linebacker, Johns the running back has a distinct advantage when he lines up in the backfield: He knows what the defense wants to do.

“I know what they’re reading,” he said. “What they’re looking for.”

If the guard pulls, he knows what gap the opposing linebacker will fill. He knows where the hole will appear, where the backdoor will open for a devastating cutback.

He knows how to outthink his opponent, and he’s ready to attack.

“They can’t stop everything,” he said. “There’s always gonna be something open.”

Q&A

Who's your favorite Marvel character and why?

Captain America. I like his shield and how he fights.

If you could have one super power, what would it be?

Super speed. I’d just be able to go anywhere I want to in the blink of an eye.

What's your favorite football movie?

“We are Marshall.” I grew up watching it. My dad showed me it. I’ve been watching it ever since.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only bring three items with you, what'd they be?

Gotta have my refrigerator, my phone for some music and I guess ESPN on television just to watch something.

Well you can use your phone to watch ESPN. You want to take another one?

Sure. Probably a boat or something. Maybe a submarine.

Let's talk Crestview. What are the team's goals?

The team goal is to go farther than we did last year, keep the winning streak going, have team chemistry and just prove everybody wrong that’s saying we lost all the talent from last year.

Have you guys been getting a lot of that?

Yeah, everybody’s saying since we lost our offensive line, our quarterbacks, our two best wide receivers from last year we’re gonna go, like, 5-5, gonna have a losing season. That’s been keeping us motivated in the weight room, at practice, learning plays and going over defense and stuff.

Are you picking up on any extra energy in the meeting rooms and on the field because of that doubt?

Yeah, we’re all focused in. We’re just paying attention and ready for the season. We’re just ready to prove people wrong.

How about some strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths? Our defensive line and our up-front teams. It’s gonna be very hard for teams to get their running game going on us. Weaknesses? Probably our secondary of defense since we’re so young, but I still trust ’em. We got some speed back there, some height. We got a new corner that transferred in from Texas. He’s bringing some good energy. Our O-line’s kinda young, but they’re still big and can get people out the way for me and Taylor.

It's been 24 years since an area team (FWB in 1995) won it all. Is this the year, whether it be y'all or another team, break that drought?

Okaloosa County has a lot of talent. I think this definitely could be the year. We went down to the Final Four, so we know what we have to do, what we have to prepare for, what the teams look like and the size, what they run and what they do.

Let's talk individual goals. What are you gunning for this year?

I want to make First Team All-Area. I want to have a lot of picks this year, a pick-6, touchdowns and just for our team to win. It’s not all about me. If our team’s winning, I’m happy.

Say someone moved to the wanted to play football. Why should they play for Crestview?

Just look at what we have done in the past. We just went to the Final Four last year. We’ve been a good team. We keep going back to the playoffs and deep in the playoffs. It’s a winning program.

Who's the most talented player on your team aside from yourself?

I don’t know about one player, but our whole D-line is talented. They put pressure on the quarterback, stop runs. They’re just amazing.

If you could play with any NFL or college player, who would it be and why?

Mack Wilson, Alabama’s middle linebacker from last year. He’s with the Browns right now. I really like his style of play and how aggressive and hard-hitting he is.