BRIGHTON – The loudest cheers from the crowd under the roof of Brighton’s Fred Smith Rodeo Arena were directed to the bareback rider from right down the road.
When it came his turn, Jacoby Johns gave the fans plenty to hoot and holler about as he produced a score of 81 points, which turned out to be good enough for fourth place in the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association’s stop at the 80th annual Brighton Field Day and Rodeo held Feb. 16-17.
“That was fun. I drew a real good horse and he bucked like I knew he was going to. I just had to do my part, which I did. It was good,” Johns said as he tore off layers of protective tape from his body following his ride.
“This sport goes through tape,” he said.
Johns, son of Wendy and Jeff Johns, has been in rodeos for nearly all his life, but to be able to shine in a pro rodeo in front of the home crowd carried extra significance.
“I’m like ecstatic that I’m in my hometown, good horse, good ride. I’m living the high life right now,” he said. “It’s always a blessing to be able to ride in front of my hometown.”
Johns, 26, also considers it a blessing to ride professionally, which he has done for four years.
“It’s more than I thought it would be,” he said. “When I watched it on TV, it’s like you’re in awe of all these guys, and now I’m riding against them. They’re like my best friends, so it’s good.”
It’s an environment where camaraderie and competitiveness ride side-by-side.
“We all compete against each other, but mostly we’re competing against our animal,” Johns said. “I’ve got friends and family all over because rodeo is a family. Everybody competes against each other, but we all want to see each other there at the next one. We’re all friends and family.”
Johns wasn’t the only rider from Brighton who shined in the PRCA. Two of his cousins – bull rider Kelton Smedley and tie-down roper Jobe Johns – also had outstanding performances. Smedley didn’t place in the money, but Jobe Johns placed eighth with a time of 8.7 seconds.
Up next for Jacoby Johns will be bigger rodeos out west in the coming weeks as he looks to continue momentum from an outstanding 2017 season in which he won both the Indian National Finals Rodeo Tour championship and short-go championship in bareback.
“I’m just living the dream now,” he said.
Jake Brown, of Texas, won finished first in the bareback with 85 points. The PRCA stop in Brighton paid out more than $76,000 prize money to the field. Wesley Brunson won all-around cowboy. At the start of the rodeo, PRCA recognized a group of first responders from the Seminole Tribe’s Fire Rescue and Police and the Glades County Sheriff’s Office in a program of appreciation for their work. Seminole Tribe Chairman Marcellus W. Osceola Jr. welcomed fans by taking a lap in the arena as a passenger in a sponsor’s pickup truck.