Football preview: Anchoring the Thunder

Johnson, Stolz influence team on both sides of line

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 
photoJosh Stolz, left, and Ryan Johnson anchor both lines for Mountain View, but their biggest value might be in setting a positive example for other players in the program.

(/The Columbian)

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Mountain View Thunder

Coach: Adam Mathieson

2010: 7-3, 5-1 3A GSHL.

Key players: Ryan Johnson, sr., te-dl; Josh Stolz, sr., ol-dl; Chris Mitchell, sr., dl; Justin Rinta, sr., lb; Michael Rivers, sr., db; Riley O’Dell, sr., qb; Sterling Reynolds, sr., rb; Bennett Mausau, jr., ol; Chavo Camargo, sr., k.

Season outlook: Mathieson could coach the Harlem Globetrotters and tell you his team is the underdog to the Washington Generals. Don’t be fooled. The Thunder keep improving under his watch.

Last year, the Thunder finished second to Camas. That squad graduated a lot of talent, but the Thunder appear ready to reload with a coach who puts that talent in position to win.

2011 SCHEDULE

Sept. 2 Evergreen

Sept. 9 at Camas

Sept. 16 Prairie

Sept. 23 Heritage

Sept. 30 at Union

Oct. 6 Fort Vancouver

Oct. 14 at Kelso

Oct. 21 at Hudson’s Bay

Oct. 28 Columbia River

Home games played at McKenzie Stadium

Ryan Johnson and Josh Stolz stand out because of their size, because of their ability, and because they never seem to be off the football field for the Mountain View Thunder.

Interestingly, they don’t really like to stand out.

If the Thunder are going to reach their goals this year, it will be because of all of them — not just the two leaders of the defensive line who also excel on offense.

“It’s all about preparation and loving people,” Stolz said of the first weeks of football practice.

It’s all about team.

“You gotta love everyone for who they are. It doesn’t matter if you’re a senior, junior, freshman, or sophomore,” Stolz continued. “We pick people up, we do not yell at them, we don’t come down on them.”

Johnson is a 6-3, 235-pound defensive lineman and tight end, while Stolz measures out at 6-1, 250 pounds as a lineman on both sides of the ball. It would be easy to say that when they speak, the rest of the team listens — or else. But in reality, there need not be an intimidation factor. The players know what to expect in the program.

“We are going to prepare relentlessly and give us a shot to win every week,” Johnson said.

Nothing fancy. Just the perfect approach, according to Mountain View coach Adam Mathieson.

“They’re great kids off the field. Ryan, a three-sport athlete, is so competitive. Josh is in the weight room every day. They lead by example, by being good students and quality young men.”

A year ago, the Thunder finished second to Camas in the Class 3A Greater St. Helens League. They played the Papermakers tough in a Week 2 matchup then ended up with a 5-1 league mark.

With Johnson and Stolz anchoring both lines, expectations are high again. For Mathieson, though, this is about more than wins and losses on a football field. He said players such as Johnson and Stolz can help mold younger athletes into becoming disciplined and respectful.

“Ten years from now, you know (Johnson and Stolz) are going to be successful,” Mathieson said. “You have no problem turning your football program over to kids like that.”

While they play both offense and defense, they each have their preferences.

“Ever since my freshman year, I’ve always loved playing on the offensive line,” Stolz said. “There’s something about seeing one of your running backs go for a touchdown.”

Johnson gets defensive.

“I just like keeping the other team from scoring,” Johnson said. “Just a cool feeling.”

After this season, college football likely will be waiting for both of them. Stolz said it has been a goal of his for years. Johnson acknowledged that some programs have expressed interest.

But they do not want to go into much detail just yet, because they do not want to stand out over their teammates.

“I’m just focusing on this team and having a great senior season,” Johnson said.

That’s all that matters to them right now.