Johnson putting up clipboard after 30 years at WC

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 15, 2002

[02/14/02] Morris Johnson has not had a vacation in 30 years.

He plans to make up for that soon.

The longtime Warren Central track and assistant football coach is hanging up his whistle at the end of this season to pursue some much-needed rest.

“He does so many things around here, a lot of us are going to have to pick up the slack,” assistant coach Larry Tyrone said. “They are not going to be able to hire somebody that is doing all the things he is doing now.”

Known to many coaches as the “clipboard coach” for his ability to smash clipboards in an instant, Johnson has been affiliated with WC since 1974.

“One group actually got him a metal clipboard one year,” Tyrone said, “because he kept breaking the wooden ones.”

Johnson, 62, will finish the season as the team’s track coach, then plans to take an extended break and visit his three daughters. His wife, Johnnie, is also retiring from her job at Hinds Community College at the end of the school year.

“I’m going to the East Coast and the West Coast and spend time with my daughters,” Johnson said. “This was more than a full-time job for me, and I put my whole heart into it.”

Johnson began coaching in 1971 at Davidson in St. Joseph, La., after holding several jobs before getting his teaching degree.

“I was coaching little league baseball,” Johnson said. “I really enjoyed being around the kids, so I figured that’s what I should do.”

He worked for one year at Warren Junior High, then coached the ninth-grade team starting in 1975. He went 32-6-1 in four seasons before being promoted.

Over the years, he has coached tight ends, defensive and offensive lines and wide receivers. He said his favorite was the receivers.

Football, though, was just the first in a long list of Johnson’s work.

He’s coached track for 20 years, earning the state championship in cross country in 1987 and earning the state’s top coaching honor.

Off the field, Johnson was the lead painter of the school buildings and athletic buildings.

“I don’t know how much money I saved the district,” he said, smiling.

His proudest memory on the football field was the Vikings’ dominance of crosstown rival Vicksburg. WC won 20 of 21 meetings.

“That was special,” Johnson said.

WC head coach Robert Morgan said: “It was a hard moment for me to accept a man’s resignation who has been working with me for that long,” Morgan said. “I am thankful that he is leaving as my friend, and I count that as a blessing.”