HOLLISTER, Mo. — When Mike Johnson moved to Hollister to be an assistant with the Tigers after 21 years coaching in Colorado, he certainly didn’t think a year later he’d be named head coach.
“It was pretty awesome,” Johnson said. I had wanted to be a head coach again. Rich Adkins was here. I loved working for him. I thought that was going to be what I’d be doing moving forward. He got a great opportunity to move on and the door opened so I was excited about the opportunity.”
But while the promotion caught him by surprise, what came next did not as Hollister started 4-1 marking already one of the best seasons in program history just halfway through.
“I really felt like Hollister was ready to win,” Johnson said. “There was a lot of work to be done and the kids had to buy in, but they’ve done that. The kids have done a great job so far.”
And for those kids, the season brings a success they’ve been striving toward for a long time.
“It’s a special year,” Hollister junior quarterback Luke Calovich. “It is truly something special. We’ve got a chance to do something nobody’s ever done in Hollister.”
“It’s different,” Hollister senior offensive and defensive lineman AJ Narvaez said. “Being the first seniors who are able to say that we actually have a good shot at going for state is something special in Hollister.”
But when asked who to credit that success to, they point right back to Johnson and how he pushed them early and often.
“We’ve never been pushed like this before,” Narvaez said. “He’s definitely pushed us as hard as we’ve ever been pushed this year. Winning with this team that we have is special. Almost our whole offensive line is seniors and we just want to do something special before we leave.”
Now they come up against a fellow 4-1 side in Aurora with conference title implications on the line.
But for them, that just makes them all the more excited.
“That’s how we’re treating it, like a conference championship game,” Calovich said. “We’ve got nothing to lose. We’re going to go out there, fight our hearts out and may the best win.”
“It’s a big one,” Johnson said. “Anytime you match two 4-1 teams on your homecoming with an opportunity to get a leg up on one another in this conference race, it’s a big game for us.”