MOORE HAVEN — Carriss Johns didn’t waste any time to make an impact for the Okeechobee High School football team.
After providing plenty of effective blocks out of the backfield throughout the night, Johns capped a memorable debut in his first high school game by scoring the first time he touched the ball. Johns, a starting freshman running back, rushed for a 6-yard touchdown in the Brahmans’ 32-6 season opening night victory against host Moore Haven on Sept. 11.
“It felt great. It felt amazing,” said Johns, who is the son of Seminole tribal member Stephanie Johns.
Johns’ touchdown came with 7:42 left in the fourth quarter and gave Okeechobee a commanding 26-6 lead. He took the handoff and showed impressive speed to the right side as he eluded defenders on his way to the end zone.
Okeechobee coach Ty Smith wasn’t surprised by what he saw, having been a coach on an Okeechobee youth football team that included his son and Johns.
“I knew what kind of dynamic player he is,” Smith said. “It was the other (Okeechobee High) coaches who never got a chance to see him play. He made a quick impact for us, immediately. The other coaches, as we went into our (preseason) meetings, said this kid is really the truth. I said ‘yes, he is.’”
Scoring a touchdown wasn’t the only aspect of Johns’ game that impressed Smith in the win against Moore Haven. The 5-foot-8, 165-pounder did a solid job without the ball.
“He blocked very well,” Smith said. “I’m happy for that. For him being a 13-year-old freshman and to play the way he did tonight, we’re just looking forward to him throughout the rest of his career and playing that way and stepping his game up.”
Despite his age, Johns also brings a leadership aspect to the squad.
“He’s a natural leader,” Smith said. “Even at the age he is at – he’ll be 14 soon – and him being a freshman, you hear his mouth in practice and you hear him saying ‘we’ve got to get this going…”
Johns said facing some Moore Haven players who are former schoolmates of his from Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School – where he attended before transferring to another school – provided an extra boost.
“It felt like I had to be more competitive, that I had more of an urge to win. I’m friendly with all of them,” he said.