BLHS star Johnson tapped for Shrine Bowl
Caleb Johnson has one more game to play.
The former Basehor-Linwood High School standout offensive and defensive lineman was selected to play in the East West Shrine Bowl at 7 p.m. July 30 at Fort Hays State University.
“It is definitely a big honor,” Johnson said. “I was very excited when I got the call a couple weeks ago. I am pretty pumped.”
The game is a chance to strap it up and play one more game. Johnson was a dominant offensive and defensive lineman at Basehor-Linwood throughout his career. He was a four-year starter and this year was the team’s only returning starter on the offensive line.
On defense, he routinely handled double teams from opponents. The Bobcats were able to run numerous defensive schemes because of his ability to occupy multiple blockers.
After his prep career, Johnson opted to study engineering at the University of Kansas rather than play college football. He figured his career was over after receiving a letter in March that he had been selected as an alternate. Then, a couple weeks ago he received an email from BLHS coach Steve Hopkins telling him Centralia coach Larry Glatczak was interested in talking with Johnson about joining the team for the Shrine Bowl.
“I figured that I was done,” he said. “The head coach from the East team called me and said, ‘Hey, do you want to play.?’ I was really excited.”
Johnson said initially when the phone call came, he wasn’t in football shape. He had been working at a local lumberyard this summer and was in fairly good shape. Since he got the call, however, he has been training for one more game and now is ready to participate in the All-Star game.
“I am definitely excited,” he said. “Obviously the season didn’t end like I wanted it to. This is a good opportunity to get that final game in. Every guy who plays says, ‘I wish played one more game.’ This is my chance to play one more game. The fact that I am playing with some of best seniors in Kansas, that is exciting. I think this is a good way to test how I line up with everybody else.”
Johnson will be the first Basehor-Linwood player since Swede Johnson to play in the Shrine Bowl. He said it is an honor to follow in his footsteps.
“Yeah, definitely, Swede and Ethan (Douglas) and all of them, those guys helped me become the player that I am today,” he said. “As a freshman, I remember getting laid out and thrown around like I was a rag doll by them. I also know the quality of players that have been in this game. It is definitely an honor.”
Johnson reports to Camp in Emporia on Friday, July 22. In addition to practicing and preparing for the game, the team will perform volunteer work at the Shriner’s Hospital. The game is designed to raise awareness for the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children, a hospital system dedicated to helping youths in need of medical care regardless of their ability to pay. The hospital works to improve the lives of children by providing pediatric specialty care, innovative research, and outstanding teaching programs for medical professionals. Children up to the age of 18 are eligible for care and receive all services in a family-centered environment, regardless of the patients’ ability to pay.
During the game, Johnson will wear his old BLHS helmet and No. 68 number and rotate on the offensive line. He isn’t sure what position he will play, but he said it will be a good way to conclude his career.
“As of right now, I am happy with where I am at,” he said. “That could change once I get the pads on and in camp.”