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Johnson aims to help Rebels reach peaks
Chris Johnson
Coach Chris Johnson offers instruction during Friday’s segment of the Rebel Strength Test. It focused on the bench press. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

SPRINGFIELD -- Chris Johnson is best known around these parts for recently leading the Effingham County baseball team to the Class AAAAAA Final Four. He’s also the secret weapon behind the strength and speed of the Rebels’ football team.

As the strength and conditioning coach, Johnson is serious about creating an atmosphere of winning on the field and in the weight room. He also serves as the offensive line coach and special teams coordinator. 

His passion is helping young men reach their full potential physically.

“I loved it growing up,” Johnson said. “My coaches meant a lot to me and inspired me growing up. I knew already as I was getting older and older that this is what I wanted to do for a living. People I most respected outside of my family were my coaches and my teachers.

“They made a difference in my life and my goal is to make a difference in other people’s lives.”

Johnson has been using a specific program everywhere he’s been but it’s his energy and excitement that provide an added boost for his players to give maximum effort.

On Thursday, the team started the Rebel Strength Test — a five-day series of drills including the power clean, vertical jump and more. The workouts are similar to what prospects go through at the NFL combine. The assessment plays a crucial role in the development of athletes prior to the start of the season.

“We are also testing them on the 40-yard dash and an agility time just to get a standard for where they are starting at before school,” Johnson said. “Then we will use these standards to move forward through school and, hopefully, by May we will be able to go back and say, ‘This is where you started, and this is where you are now.’ It gives us data about what we need to fix about our strength program.

“Our goal is to make them bigger, faster and stronger. We are trying to stress the importance of the work in this room because it all translates on the field. You have to look at the body type, what they do with their lifts and those type of things. You might be surprised because a wide receiver may be more explosive than a defensive lineman.”

For nearly two decades, Johnson has poured his heart and soul into his profession at several stops, including West Forsyth, Metter and Effingham County.

“Our coaching staff has done a great job providing supplements for these guys,” Johnson said. “They are getting extra food every day and that’s a big way to add extra calories to their diet to add more weight and energy. We are trying to build a better athlete all around, mentally and physically.

“I am very blessed to have this opportunity.”