GLASSBORO – Michael Johnson knows quite a lot about playing as a teammate with an all-star caliber quarterback.
A Timber Creek High School graduate, Johnson played the last several seasons as a wide receiver in support of Devin Leary, the player many have defined as South Jersey's top scholastic quarterback in a generation.
On Thursday night Johnson teamed up with another pretty good quarterback in Sterling’s C.J. Barrett as teammates on the White All-Stars in the annual Adam Taliaferro All-Star Classic.
Johnson caught one of three touchdown passes thrown by Barrett, and that score contributed to 26-13 win over the Blue All-Stars in a game played at Rowan University.
It would be unfair to asked Johnson to compare the two quarterbacks. But he said he did see some similarities on the way Leary and the Rowan University-bound Barrett approach the game.
“I can compare them both by their toughness,” said Johnson, whose touchdown came on a 45-yard bomb in the first quarter. “They both love the game and they’ll never back down from anyone.”
For Barrett, the entire evening was like a dream experience, especially because he will be hoping to build a memorable career playing on the same field for the next few years.
“I’m coming to Rowan so I just have to keep getting better,” he said. “Tonight it felt amazing. My (Rowan) coaches were here so I hope I showed them something.”
Aside from his touchdown pass to Johnson, Barrett threw another one of two yards to Kingway’s Kevin Zhener in the second quarter to run the score to 12-0.
He added another 48-yard laser to Camden’s Damon Rice in the third quarter as White moved ahead 26-7.
Rice caught ball a few yards short of the end zone and then made a nice move to get over the goal line.
Barrett played most of the game, even though he shared some minutes with Haddon Heights quarterback Matt DiOrio.
He completed 14 of 27 passes for 199 yards and he ran for 40 yards. He accomplished this while changing his style a play.
Normally a Wing-T quarterback, Barrett seemed to easily adjust to playing a more wide-open spread offense as taught by Timber Creek coach Jamal White – one of the game assistants.
“He did very well coming from a Wing-T quarterback and then be able to adjust this week,” White said. “He did a great job of throwing the ball. It will help him. He’s coming to Rowan next year and they run a spread offense. So hopefully the coaches saw something.”
One area in which Barrett wants to continue to improve on his game is through the development of his arm strength. On Thurdsay he threw accurately and he often threw deep.
“My arm strength is definitely growing and I’m going to have to keep working on it,” Barrett said. “I have to be ready to perform at the D-III level.”
Barrett’s strength was one aspect Timber Creek’s Johnson noticed early in the practice sessions
“I was running an `go’ and he overthrew me,” he said. “I hardly ever get overthrown so I adjusted because if I figured out he has that really good Division 1 arm.”
Barrett’s touchdown pass to Johnson was especially impressive. It came on a pattern in which Johnson jogged down the field and then blew away the defender with double move.
Barrett followed the play all the way and threw the ball 50 yards in the air right into Johnson’s hands in the end zone.
“The rest of our offense didn’t really know what we were doing,” Johnson said. “We talked about it with our coaches and CJ during practice. We knew their conrers like to press and once we got them on a double move we knew with CJ’s arm I could come underneath.”
Barrett too saw the touchdown as a big play.
“We had to shake out the kinks,” he said. “That got us going.”
The White defense also preformed well and produced one the team’s touchdowns. Schalick’s Tryees Reese blocked a punt inside the five-yard yard line and he recovered the ball in the end zone for the score.
He also had one the White’s four interceptions for the game.
The Blue team got on the board when Cumberland’s Purvis Hatcher closed the deficiti to 12-7 when he returned the second-half kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.
Willingboro’s Trae Green then threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Burlington Township’s Kadin Pegram late in the game.
Taliaferro All-Star Classic
Blue 0 0 7 6 -13
White 6 6 14 0 -26
W: Michael Johnson, Timber Creek 45 pass from CJ Barrett, Sterling, (kf)
W: Kevin Zhener, Kingsway, 2 pass from Barrett (kf)
B: Purvis Hatcher, Cumberland 90 kickoff return (Clay Olley, Ceder Creek (kick).
W: Tyrees Snipes, Schalick recovers blocked punt in end zone (Dave Burns, Triton (kick).
W: Damon Rice, Camden, 48 pass from Barrett (Burns (kick)
B Trae Green WIllingboro 25 pass to Kaden Pegram, Burlington Twp. (pf).
Tag(s): Home Kingsway Haddon Heights Schools Tri-County Conference Olympic Conference Cape-Atlantic League Colonial Conference Sterling Burlington Co. League Timber Creek Cumberland Cedar Creek Burlington Township Rancocas Valley Willingboro Camden Don Benevento