Marqui Playmaker: Chaparral RB Makes Instant Impact For Firebirds

Scottsdale Chaparral has had a rich history of big-play threats. Whether it be Kyle Williams, Dwayne Garrett or Davonte’ Neal, the Firebirds have had their fair share of game-breakers over the years.

Marqui Johnson is the next in line.

The sophomore running back has over 1,000 all-purpose yards, 13 touchdowns and picks up over eight yards per carry. Defenses have had a hard time catching him, and he can outrun his blockers sometimes as well.

“The biggest thing with Marqui is he is so fast that he sometimes runs past the holes,” Chaparral head football coach Thomas Lewis said. “Early on, we basically started telling him to be patient…‘Hey, you have to be slow-to (the block), fast-through…take your time getting to the hole and accelerate once you get there.’ Once he got that down, obviously the sky’s the limit for him.”

Johnson came to Chaparral when he moved from Philadelphia. He was struck by how connected the Chaparral community is, and he is excited to build a legacy with that community over the coming seasons.

“When I came in, the first thing I heard about was the tradition and how they don’t let up at all,” Johnson said. “It’s one big family. Since I’ve been here, it hasn’t changed at all. I’m very, very happy with the program, and I can’t wait to start another season here.”

Part of Johnson’s new Chaparral family is running backs coach and run game coordinator Trace Carroll, who played for Chaparral from 2009-2013. If there is someone who embodies “family” in the Chaparral program, it’s Carroll. Along with him on the sideline is his younger sister, a water girl for the team, and his father is the public address announcer, doing what he can to give Chaparral a home field advantage.

Carroll has taken Johnson under his wing as the young running back transitions to a new program.

“He’s the reason I’m getting so many looks and the running back I am today,” Johnson said.

Opposing defenses will have their hands full over the next few years with Johnson and freshman wide receiver and kicker Tommy Christakos, who is out for the year with a fractured ankle, but has drawn similar attention and praise early in his Chaparral career.

And let’s just say Coach Lewis is excited to see what happens over the next few years. When thinking about what Johnson could accomplish as an upperclassman, the first-year head coach couldn’t help but grin.

“He’s going to be dynamic. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. He can run the ball,” Lewis siad. “He’s a durable kid that you can run basically on every down, inside the tackles as well as outside the tackles with his speed. Hopefully for him, stays healthy and the next two years are just breaking records for him.”

Mixing his passions for sports and storytelling, Jordan comes to Sports360az as a multimedia reporter/producer looking to share the best stories Arizona has to offer. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @JordyHamm