By Bobby Mathews, Sports Editor
CLAY — For the third time in the 2021 season, Clay-Chalkville quarterback Khalib Johnson has been named The Tribune’s Player of the Week.
The senior, who has committed to play football for the University of Louisville, totaled 201 yards passing, with two touchdowns as the Cougars swept past Briarwood Christian in the second round of the AHSAA 6A playoffs, 56-21.
The numbers for Johnson are almost academic at this point. He can throw the ball with the best of them, and it doesn’t hurt that he has elite talent like Marquarius “Squirrel” White, Mario Craver and Jaylen Mbakwe at receiver. What has been the difference-maker is Johnson’s leadership and character on the football field.
Against Briarwood Christian, Johnson went down in the first half with a potential injury. And while there’s talent aplenty on the Clay-Chalkville roster, Johnson is the straw that stirs the drink for the Cougars’ offense: Everything flows through him. What mattered most to his teammates and coaches was that Johnson came back in the second half.
That’s a leadership move.
Johnson has passed for 2,436 yards and 34 touchdowns on 138 completions on 209 attempts. Over the course of the 2021 season, he’s thrown only four picks.
The senior quarterback was named player of the week for the first time when he balled out on October 1, as the Cougars whipped previously undefeated Jackson-Olin, 46-14 to go to 6-0 at that point in the season. In that game, Johnson totaled six touchdowns, with five coming through the air and one on the ground.
Johnson went 20-0f-28 for 298 yards through the air against Jackson-Olin, and showed his offensive versatility throughout. The Cougars scored first when Johnson found Mario Craver for 7-yard touchdown pass to cap a grinding 13-play drive that wore the Jackson-Olin defense down. Later in the first, he launched a 33-yard scoring toss to Marquarius White, and the rout was on.
Rising to the occasion on a Thursday night game on October 28, Johnson had another stellar night for Clay-Chalkville, throwing three touchdowns and 214 yards as the No. 1-ranked team in Class 6A blew out a 7A playoff team in Oak Mountain, 48-0 to earn another player of the week award.
Johnson has been stellar all season. Look what Johnson did against Hueytown: He went 11-of-14 for 217 yards and four touchdowns. When his team has needed him most, Johnson rises to the occasion time and time again.
The Tribune Player of the Week is sponsored by OrthoAlabama Spine & Sports. Also considered this week: Troy Bruce (Center Point), B.J. Diakite (Pinson Valley) and Omari Kelly (Hewitt-Trussville).