All-State teammates: Manistee’s Jensen, Johns earn All-State honors

Manistee’s Bryson Jensen (left) and Trevor Johns (right) were named All-State honorable mentions. (News Advocate file photos)

Manistee’s Bryson Jensen (left) and Trevor Johns (right) were named All-State honorable mentions. (News Advocate file photos)

There’s no question about it: going 9-0 in a regular season of high school football takes a total team effort. But in doing so, a team no doubt needs its share of playmakers and game-changers on the roster.

Those types of athletes could be found in the backfield for Manistee this season, in quarterback Trevor Johns and running back Bryson Jensen. The potent one-two punch helped lead the Chippewas to the program’s first undefeated regular season since 1961, and with those nine victories the team became the winningest in school history.

For their standout senior seasons, Johns and Jensen were each named Division 5/6 All-State honorable mentions for their respective positions this week by the Associated Press.

“When you get an award like that, and you’re recognized individually, it obviously speaks volumes to who you are as an athlete and the type of work ethic you have,” said Manistee coach Troy Bytwork. “It’s also a testament to your teammates. Especially in football, you can’t achieve those sort of individual awards without great guys surrounding you.”

Manistee had an historic season this fall and the postseason accolades continue to prove it.

“Any time those lists come out, people in the community see that, and not only are they proud of those players, they’re proud that they’re from Manistee,” Bytwork said. “And I know those guys are proud to represent Manistee too, so it’s great for the program to say the least.”

Johns, a two-year starter, headed Manistee’s deceptive veer offense and proved himself a dual-threat to the opposition all season long.

Elusive and speedy on the ground, the Chippewa quarterback amassed 1,259 yards rushing on 126 attempts, for an average of 9.9 yards per carry. He contributed a large portion of the Chippewas’ program-record 388 points this season with 20 rushing touchdowns.

“His quickness is apparent from the onset and his breakaway speed is pretty special,” Bytwork said. “You don’t see him get caught from behind too often. His speed and athleticism were obviously the keys to his game, as well as hist strength and ability to break tackles.”

When he had to, Johns got it done through the air as well, completing 25 of his 51 pass attempts for 588 yards and five touchdowns.

“He’s an exceptional athlete and above all else he’s an exceptional person,” Bytwork added. “He’s got all the types of qualities that will make him successful in anything he does, and his athletic achievements are really a microcosm of the type of person he is.”

When Johns wasn’t making defenders miss or leaving them in his dust, the Chippewas looked to Jensen to simply power through them.

“Bryson is such a powerful, hard-nosed runner,” Bytwork said, “and when you’re playing our style of offense, the running back has to be tough, because you’re getting hit on essentially every play, almost by design, because we’re leaving at least one guy unblocked.

“He didn’t shy away. His legs just kept motoring.”

Jensen led his team in rushing yards with 1,363 on 156 attempts for an average of 8.7 yards per carry. The bruising back scored 11 touchdowns on the ground this season.

“He worked his tail off. He wanted the ball, he wanted the yards. There are so many circumstances where he broke tackles at the line of scrimmage and broke tackles deep into the secondary. … I loved having him. He was a three-year varsity player for us and another exceptional kid too.

“I was blessed, to say the least, with this senior class. And maybe every coach says that, but when you live it, it’s absolutely truthful.”

While the two All-State Chippewas earned their postseason honors individually, Bytwork also praised their chemistry as a tandem.

“If you’re going to run this offense and be effective, you need chemistry between your running back and your quarterback,” he said. “When everything is happening in less than a second from the snap, there can’t be a question of who’s getting the ball.

“Trevor and Bryson have probably run veer well over 10,000 snaps, counting practices and games since they were eighth graders,” Bytwork added. “They’ve built that chemistry over time, and they definitely fed off each other.”

Johns and Jensen’s accolades reflect their work on the offensive side of the ball, but they certainly were no slouches on defense.

As a free safety for the Chippewas, Johns totaled 54 tackles, including five for loss, with two interceptions (returned for a combined 97 yards), two defensive touchdowns, a forced fumble and fumble recovery. Jensen, an inside linebacker, recorded 80 total tackles for Manistee, including eight for loss, to go with three sacks and a forced fumble.

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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