Matthew Johnson never expected it, but the Keenan defensive end capped an outstanding senior season by becoming on the third player in program history to be selected to play in the Shrine Bowl football game.
Johnson and the rest of the Sandlappers will take on the best senior players from neighboring North Carolina in the 72nd annual gridiron classic Saturday at Gibbs Stadium on the campus of Wofford College.
Johnson helped Keenan produce its first winning season (7-4) in 14 years in 2008, ringing up 19.5 sacks in his first season at defensive end. The 6-2, 285-pound lineman was a three-year starter on the interior defensive line prior to his shift outside this fall.
“Matthew really got himself into shape and he shed some 25 pounds and that really helped his quickness,” said Keenan coach Mitchell Moton. “Playing in the Shrine Bowl is going to be a great experience for him, and it’s a nice bit of recognition for our program.”
Keenan’s two previous Shrine Bowl players were April Pou (1981) and Rory Gallman (1995), who were both outstanding senior offensive linemen on 5-5 teams. Pou played guard under Walter English, while Gallman was a standout tackle under Mickey Pringle.