Terry Johnson

Lufkin’s Terry Johnson (11) converges on a play during a District 8-5A DI game against Magnolia West earlier this season on John Outlaw Memorial Field at Abe Martin Stadium.

Playing under the Friday Night Lights, Lufkin’s Terry Johnson has never worried about his position.

He spent his junior season as a safety and is listed in this year’s program at the same position. However, in reality, his role on this year’s team is more of an outside linebacker.

Depending on the play, he can make an impact at either position.

None of those are the labels he’s worried about. The ones he appreciates the most are simple.

Lufkin Panther.

Football player.

Winner.

“I fell in love with the game by watching it on TV as a kid,” Johnson said. “Now it’s truly a dream to be playing for Lufkin where we’ve had legends like Dez (Bryant), Keke (Coutee) and Erik McCoy. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

Johnson does it all for the Panthers as he leads the team in tackles for losses. He is also among the team’s leading tacklers.

He isn’t any stranger to the spotlight. When Magnolia West came to town with the top-rated offense in the district, Johnson was in the middle of the action the entire night, making six tackles, including one for a loss and a sack.

He followed that up with another nice night this past week in a shutout over Caney Creek.

“My mentality is that I’m going to play as hard and as fast as I can on every down,” Johnson said. “Coach (Michael) Gamble expects us to be perfect on every play. We know that’s not always going to happen, but that’s the goal.”

Even when he misses out on perfection, Johnson is the type of all-out effort player that still makes an impact on the team.

He spent last season as a safety before making the move to outside linebacker this season. On certain formations, his versatility is shown as he can drop back into a safety position. On others, he admits he likes the opportunity to get after a quarterback.

“When we asked him about making a move, he said he’ll do it without question,” Quick said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked of him, and he’s a true team player.”

Regardless of where he lines up, he has been a winner. Since he joined the varsity, Lufkin is undefeated in district where his senior class has helped bring home back-to-back 8-5A DI titles.

The Panthers have 18 wins in that time, a number he hopes to increase to 25 by the time the season wraps up.

“There’s just something different about Lufkin,” Johnson said. “Coach Quick told us when we were freshmen that it’s not easy being a Panther. But it’s worth it.”

When Johnson’s time at Lufkin is up, he’ll explore his options for playing at the next level. He has gotten attention from SFA and Louisiana-Monroe over the past few months.

However, his focus has been more on the Panthers than what lies ahead.

“Being a senior, the focus has been on being a better leader on the team,” Johnson said. “There are a lot of expectations that come along with being a senior. I love it here, and this has been an amazing experience.”

With the type of vibrant personality that Johnson brings both to the field and the locker room, he is a player that will certainly be missed after the season wraps up.

“You’re not going to win unless you have players like (Johnson) on your team,” Quick said. “He wants to be a part of everything. He’s the type of player you want on your team.”

Josh Havard’s email address is

josh.havard@lufkindailynews.com.

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