Juniata Valley coach ‘made everyone happy’
In the tense moments of Juniata Valley’s 9-3 victory over Bishop Guilfoyle in the District 6, Class 1A semifinals at Mansion Park in November, Green Hornets assistant coach Jimbob Johnson brought some needed levity to the sidelines.
“Toward the middle of the fourth quarter, there was a moment when we were all trying to figure out what to call next, and he just interrupted and said, ‘What a beautiful day to be out playing football,”’ Valley head coach Bill Musser recalled with a smile Saturday. “He was always the one with the light-hearted air about him.”
Musser credited Johnson’s “calmness” during Valley’s charge to what would become its first district football championship in 31 years.
Stories, amid tears, have been flowing in Alexandria and Huntingdon County these last few days after the stunning news of Johnson’s death due to a blood clot Thursday night.
He was only 27.
“It was very sudden,” Musser said. “There was no indication.”
Musser said the 2010 Juniata Valley graduate and former Hornets’ offensive lineman had been “battling bronchitis” when a “coughing fit” ensued at his family’s home.
Johnson collapsed, CPR was attempted, and 911 was called, but he was not able to be revived.
Now a shocked community grieves.
“I do not know anybody who had anything negative to say about him,” Musser said. “He was genuinely one of the best people you’d ever want to meet. Certainly full of life and a very vibrant young man.”
The oldest of five children (parents Jim and Kim survive), Johnson worked as a specialist for Keystone Human Services in Huntingdon, assisting the mentally and physically challenged.
He was on the football staff for four seasons, was active in youth baseball and chaperoned Juniata Valley class trips.
“He made such a positive footprint,” Musser said. “We as a community cannot begin to fathom.”
Johnson’s youngest brother, Jake, was a freshman for the Hornets last season.
“They were able to celebrate,” Valley’s title, Musser said.
Counselors were made available at the high school on Friday, and a 20-foot banner of supportive messages was created and delivered to the family.
“He made everyone around him happy and laugh uncontrollably, people he didn’t know even,” standout Jaxson Rand said. “Such a joyful and loving person gone to soon. Lots of love.”
Mirror player of the year Quinn Zinobile tweeted that he’s “still in denial that my brother is gone.”
“I’m speechless,” Zinobile tweeted to his coach and friend. “Love you Jimbob. There was never a dull moment with you. It’s crazy how the Lord works sometimes. I know now you can watch as many Eagles games and enjoy endless coyote hunts. I hope you get to shoot that dream buck we have been talking about for years. Fly high.”
The viewing will take place from 5-8 p.m. tonight and from 10 a.m. to the 11 a.m. funeral Tuesday at the Word of Life Fellowship Church, Huntingdon.