Park City senior Chase Johansen is shining on and off the field for the Miners
It was late on Wednesday night, Oct. 16, and Chase Johansen was standing by himself at Dozier Field.
Park City had just defeated Cedar Valley 47-6 to claim Region 10 championship in football, and the senior linebacker was just taking in the atmosphere.
He saw his teammates, friends of his since he was a little kid, hugging one another and taking pictures with fans and families alike. Before embracing his family and smiling for photos, Johansen hugged his head coach Josh Montzingo, and thanked him.
To understand Johansen on the football field – an 18-year-old “manchild,” according to Montzingo – you must first understand the person he is without the helmet.
“You won’t meet many kids like Chase, you just won’t,” Montzingo said. “He’s a leader on and off the field, and someone who is highly respected in the program and the community. He’s one of our captains and one of our leaders, and that’s not just because of his talent on the field.”
To Johansen, there’s who he is on the football field and who he is off it, and never do those two people meet.
Off the field, Johansen tries to blend into his surroundings, but that’s tough to do when you stand 6-foot-1 and weigh 215 pounds. Sometimes struggling to make eye contact because of shyness, he refers to his elders as “sir” and “ma’am,” and is soft-spoken that sometimes he’s difficult to hear.
When asked as to why he’s that way, he has no idea, just knows it’s the way he was raised.
“I was always taught to be respectful, so that’s who I try to be,” Johansen said. “I’m not the biggest fan of the spotlight, just kind of like to go about my business and be me. I’m good with that.”
But when the lights shine brightest and Johansen straps on his helmet, that shy and respectful guy who tries to blend into his surroundings disappears and the manchild emerges.
A force to be reckoned with at his middle linebacker spot, Johansen is arguably the most underrated player in the state, according to Montzingo.
He is ranked eighth in the state in tackles with 104 total for an average of 11.4 per game. But because of how often the Miners have outscored their opponents this season Johansen has routinely sat out the fourth quarter of games, even the entire second half on two occasions.
On the field, Johansen’s presence isn’t just physical.
If you watch him closely, you’ll see him pointing out opposing teams formations, often calling out the play before it unfolds. On other plays, Johansen will physically outmuscle an opposing lineman to make the tackle, or run with a slot receiver down the middle of the field to prevent a catch.
“I’m definitely not the guy who’s telling people what to do, I’m just the guy who plays hard and hopefully brings the other guys along with me,” Johansen said. “On the field though, I play with a lot of emotion, and definitely a little bit of trash-talking but not in a bad or disrespectful way. I play with controlled emotion because it’s the only way to really play the game.”
According to Montzingo, Johansen is “one of the best-kept secrets in the state of Utah.” But that might not last for long as NCAA Division I FCS football programs like Montana, Weber State and Yale, as well as FBS Utah State, have shown interest in the senior’s skillset.
“It’s pretty exciting being recruited but at the same time, I’m still not sure what I’m going to be doing as of yet,” Johansen said. “I’ve gone to visit some schools on trips, watched their games, but I’m still in the process of the whole thing and don’t know what I’m going to do yet. Whatever I chose though, I really want to go into physical therapy.”
In the meantime, and before he decides where to play football for the next four years of his life, Johansen has one thing on his mind — a state championship.
Park City is set to begin the Class 4A state playoffs on Nov. 1 against either Logan or Ogden, as Johansen and his teammates are looking to put the disappointment of last year behind them, when they fell 20-0 to Dixie in the 4A semifinals.
“The mindset for whole team right now awesome, and although being region champions is great, our big goal was to go to state,” Johansen said. “Our whole focus is now just on the playoffs. As the older guys on the team, we know how big of an opportunity this is. It’s the last time we’ll all play together and we want to go out the same way we came in. … Undefeated and as champions.”
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Dave Hanscom announced last month he was retiring as volunteer race director of the Wasatch Citizens Series after 30 years in the position.