As a freshman, Ryan Johnson thought about sitting out the basketball season at Mountain View High School.
He was not sure if he was good enough in that sport, and he wondered if he should focus on football and baseball instead.
Hopefully that was the only time Johnson doubted his athletic abilities.
Not only did he fight off those doubts and go out for basketball, he made varsity — as a freshman.
That would turn out to be the first of 11 varsity letters Johnson would earn for the Thunder. A year-round athlete, the only thing Johnson specialized in was being awesome at all of his sports.
Senior year, Johnson and the Thunder football, basketball, and baseball teams all reached the round of 16 in Class 3A Washington brackets.
Johnson was named to The Columbian’s All-Region team in football and basketball. In baseball, he was second-team all-league and considered one of the top defensive first basemen in the area.
Johnson still considers basketball his weaker talent. That could be because he played post.
Oh, he was strong enough — he’s a defensive lineman in football after all — but at 6-3, he had some disadvantages in the paint. That meant he had to decide if baseball or football would be his sport in college.
“When I was younger, I was thinking baseball,” Johnson said. “As a junior, I had a great football season. Well, maybe football.”
In February, in front of dozens of friends and family members, Johnson signed a letter of intent to play football for Montana.
“Football is definitely more fun just because it is the ultimate team sport,” Johnson said. “You have a lot of guys, all striving to be good, striving for one goal.”
Oh, there is another reason.
“I like hitting people,” Johnson said.
After years of excelling at a little bit of everything, Johnson can finally specialize on hitting only the football field.
Best of the rest all-region multi-sport athletes
Emilio Alcantar, Hudson’s Bay
The senior earned All-Region in wrestling where he was runner-up at state at 152 pounds. He was also a first-team all-league pick in baseball.
Brandon Brody-Heim, Union
The senior earned his All-Region honor in football, where he signed with Portland State; also was second-team all-league OF in baseball.
Scott Feather, Camas
Senior was an All-Region linebacker in football for the Papermakers; he earned all-league honors as a discus thrower in track and field.
David Garlington, Skyview
Senior was an All-Region selection in football as a cornerback for state runners-up; also a first-team all-league outfielder in baseball.
Tim Hergert, Heritage
Junior was an All-Region pick in basketball where he was one of the area’s top scorers; he also was first-team all-league outfielder in baseball.
Jabari Marshall, Skyview
Junior was an All-Region pick in football as team-leading tackler at linebacker; he placed eighth at state in javelin in track and field.
Tanner Nelson, Union
Senior earned All-Region and all-state honors in football for the Titans; also earned All-Region honors in basketball for third-place team at state.
Forrest Russell, Skyview
The junior earned All-Region honors in track by placing sixth at state in the long jump; he was a second-team all-league pick in football.
Zach Torson, Mountain View
Senior was an All-Region selection in both basketball and baseball, eventually signing a letter of intent to play baseball for the University of Portland.
Jessie Zalk, Prairie
Senior earned All-Region honor in football for his all-purpose skills; also earned All-Region in track by placing in sixth at state in long jump.
(For photos of all the athletes listed here, pick up a copy of the print edition of the June 17 Columbian)