Behind the leadership of junior quarterback Jonathan Goodman, the C.A. Johnson football team is enjoying its best season in more than 20 years.
Goodman threw for 817 yards and 13 touchdowns to guide the Green Hornets to a 7-3 record during the regular season, 5-2 in Region 4-A. C.A. Johnson opens the playoffs Friday at Calhoun County.
Goodman was expected to contribute during his freshman season. But during his first practice, he broke a bone in his wrist and was expected to miss the first several games of the season.
However, two months after having surgery, doctors discovered the bone wasn't healing properly. That forced Goodman to undergo a second surgery that ended his freshman season before it started.
"I was really upset," Goodman said. "It was really tough sitting out and not being able to get out there to try and help the team."
Last season, Goodman regained his health and learned he would be at the reins of the offense.
"I was really nervous going into my first game as the starting quarterback, definitely had some butterflies in my stomach," he said. "I really didn't know too much about playing on the varsity level, so I just had to try and focus on the game and learn whatever I could from the experience."
Goodman and the Green Hornets struggled in 2008 before turning things around this season.
The quarterback's performance late in the team's 8-7 victory against Blackville-Hilda two weeks ago was a testament to how far he has progressed.
Trailing 7-0 with five minutes remaining, the Green Hornets offense took the field for what likely was their last shot. What happened still brings a smile to the face of coach Jerry Jackson as he recalls the game-winning drive.
"(Goodman) performed when we had to have it, and that's what he's been doing well for us all year - managing the game, keeping the ball out of harm's way and leading our offense," he said.
Goodman ran for two important third-down conversions and completed four of five passes on the drive.
"Jonathan has been making plays ever since we started playing football in the seventh grade," friend and teammate Vincent Trezevant said. "His athleticism and ability to understand what's going on has helped us a bunch this season."
Goodman's athleticism has drawn the interest from one of the nation's most illustrious college programs.
"I've gotten some interest from smaller schools but no offers yet," Goodman said. "Notre Dame looked at me during my sophomore season while they were down here recruiting. They told me that they're going to keep track of me and that I need to make sure to get my work done in the classroom.
"They said they liked me as an athlete and weren't really sure what position I'd play, but I've got to get better in order to go there."
Jackson believes that as Goodman continues to improve and gain experience, more scholarship offers will come.
"Right now I know that Presbyterian College is looking at him hard, and he plans to take a visit," Jackson said. "Several other small schools have talked to him but are waiting to see how he continues to progress."