A new era of Cottage Grove football has begun.
On Thursday, Cottage Grove High School announced that Jordan Johnson, 26, will be taking over in the role as head football coach for the Lions. Johnson, a math teacher at CGHS, has been involved with the program for the past three years, including serving as defensive coordinator the last two seasons, and will be filling a vacancy left by Gary Roberts’ departure. Roberts, who serves in the role as athletic director and vice principal at CGHS, coached the team for 11 seasons and is the winningest coach in school history.
“I think it will be a fun challenge for me and give me an opportunity to see how I do in that role opposed to just being a defensive coordinator,” Johnson said in a phone interview on Friday. Adding, “It feels good for sure. It’s awesome that Gary and (principal) Mike (Ingman) believed in me enough to give me the chance.”
Johnson has been around coaching his entire life. His dad Marty Johnson, who has been a fixture on the CGHS football staff during their recent success, was head coach at Willamette High School and Sheldon High School (where he won four titles) while his uncle and grandpa have also been football coaches. But for the youngest Johnson, coaching was not inevitable.
“I always, obviously, loved the game of football. I didn’t really know that I wanted to coach until I was in college and once I was done playing,” said Johnson. “The following fall, I helped coach a middle school team just because I knew a couple of the kids on the team and knew some parents. That’s when I knew that was something that I really wanted to do.”
Learning lessons from Roberts and all the coaches in his life, Johnson views coaching as going beyond just the x’s and o’s on Friday night.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned from them is it’s more than just about the game of football. It’s about getting these kids to become young men,” said Johnson. “To be able to go out after the four years and be productive and be good husbands and good dads one day and be able to pass those lessons along to their kids.”
After graduating from Sheldon in 2010, where he was named 6A player of the year in football after leading the Irish to titles in 2007 and 2009, Johnson attended the University of Montana where he played in 45 games and threw for 78 touchdowns over the course of his career.
Johnson did not play in the 2012 season after he was accused of rape in a high-profile case that ushered in a national conversation about sexual assault in college athletics. Johnson’s trial ended with a verdict of not guilty.
The Lions will begin the 2019 season on September 6 at Cascade.