Maybe Carter Johnson could have spent his final high school soccer season hanging up front for the Skyview Storm.
As a sophomore member of a state championship team and as the state player of the year as a junior, Johnson proved quite effective at scoring goals.
But Johnson wanted more than just eye-opening statistics from his senior season. He wanted to become a more well-rounded player, and to share the spotlight.
"I love playing for something bigger than myself," Johnson said. "I wasn't worried about scoring or assisting. All I was focused on was me getting better and bettering the team and having a successful season for the school. I think we did that."
With Johnson contributing 27 goals and 14 assists, the Storm lost only twice and finished third in the Class 4A state soccer tournament. For his efforts, Johnson was named the Gatorade Washington Boys Soccer Player of the Year for the second season in a row.
He also is a repeat winner of The Columbian's All-Region boys soccer player of the year honor.
One thing was different, though. His position. Instead of staying forward and waiting to pounce on scoring chances, Johnson played in the midfield and moved freely between defense and offense.
"My goal for the season was to prepare myself for college," said Johnson, who expects to play as an attacking midfielder at Chico State. "I wanted to take full advantage of the facilities, of the games, of practices, of coaching, of everything I could to fully better myself and get ready for college soccer."
In choosing a college, Johnson said he always wanted to end up in California. He figures he talked with 11 California programs before landing with Chico, where the community vibe and vibrant business program were selling points.
Some of the high points of Johnson's final high school season were three matches against with Camas. He especially enjoyed battles with Papermaker midfielder Matt Palodichuk.
"I didn't realize how high I could jump until I out-jumped Matt," Johnson joked. "I loved that. I thought it was an awesome teaching and learning experience for me playing against Matt, because he's such a hard worker, such a bull when he's on the field."
Members of both the Storm and Papermakers played together for a Washington Timbers team that won a club state championship in the winter. All three matches between the schools ended in draws, though Skyview prevailed on penalty kicks in the district title match.
His friendships with some of the Camas players made those matches more fun, he said.
In fact, it was a text from a father of one of those Camas players that informed Johnson he was again the Washington Gatorade Player of the Year. When he got the text, he said he ran to coach Jenn Johnson's classroom to confirm the news.
"Jen was trying to keep it a secret," Carter Johnson said.
"It was such a rush. I was really happy and really satisfied," he said of winning the award. "There was a part of me, though, that said 'You still haven't made it. There's still another step I need to take.'"
The target was another state title, a dream that ended with a 3-2 loss to Ferris of Spokane in the semifinals. The aftermath of that loss, he said, is his most special memory from the season.
"We gave everything we had, and we were best buds. Just the connections that we had while we were all crying and hugging, it brought us really, really close," Johnson said. "It really solidified our friend group."
All-Region boys soccer team
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Carter Johnson, sr., Skyview
Johnson scored 27 goals and 14 assists to lead Skyview to a third-place finish at state. He was selected the Gatorade Washington Boys Soccer Player of the Year for a second year in a row.
Rest of All-Region team
NATE BEASLEY, SR., CAMAS: Forward scored a team-high 15 goals and added 11 assists for the 4A GSHL champs.
AUSTIN CASSITY, SR., CAMAS: Midfielder was a first-team all-4A Greater St. Helens League pick
JONATHAN GRANADOS, SO., UNION: Midfielder was a first-team all-4A Greater St. Helens League pick.
AUSTIN HORNER, SR., SKYVIEW: Defender anchored the back line and was a weapon on free kicks for the storm.
EVAN LAWS, SR., SKYVIEW: 4A GSHL all-league goalkeeper was also a team leader for the Storm.
KYLE MORRIS, SR., RIDGEFIELD: Defender and team leader was named co-player of the year in the Class 2A GSHL.
MATT PALODICHUK, SR., CAMAS: Key defensive midfielder also scored 11 goals for the Papermakers.
MITCHELL PINNEY, JR., HOCKINSON: Had 24 goals and six assists; was co-player of the year in the Class 2A GSHL.
SAM PIZOT, SR., CAMAS: Defender recorded a team-high 48 tackles and also had seven assists
ISAAC STREVER, SR., MOUNTAIN VIEW: Midfielder led the Thunder in scoring and was 3A GSHL’s player of the year.
BRANDON ZILLES, SR., SKYVIEW: Speedy threat up front was a first-team all-GSHL forward.