Football isn't easy.

It's not easy for Logan Johnston.

It's just that there are times, against all pre-conceived notions of the value of experience and years of practice, when he makes it look that way.

"He made a play last week in our playoff game," Pennsville coach Ryan Wood said the other day. "P.J. [Halter, the Eagles' quarterback] is scrambling, and he throws a ball, and Logan just lays out, dives, and makes the catch. It was amazing."

Johnston is the first to admit he's still learning the game. He never played football until his junior year at Pennsville, and he still is developing an understanding of his second fall sport.

But the tall, rangy senior has blossomed into a remarkably versatile and productive player for Pennsville (7-2), which visits Paulsboro (8-1) in the South Jersey Group 1 semifinals on Saturday.

"This is a kid that a year and a half ago was still trying to figure out how to play football," Wood said.

Johnston is the Eagles' top receiver with 46 catches for 720 yards (15.6-yard average) and six touchdowns.

He is the team's top ball hawk with five interceptions as a defensive back. He's returned two of them for touchdowns.

He is 32 for 37 in extra points and 1 for 4 in field-goal attempts as a kicker.

"And now we've started handing the ball off to him on running plays," Wood said. "The first guy almost never tackles him."

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Johnston was a soccer player, first and foremost, for most of his life. He said he started playing that sport as a four-year-old and stuck with it until the summer before his junior year at Pennsville.

"A lot of my friends played football, and I guess I really wanted to try it," Johnston said. "It was something I didn't want to regret not trying it."

Johnston said the choice was his alone. He wasn't pressured by his friends or by any of the football coaches.

"I took months to think about it," Johnston said.

Johnston probably was the best soccer player in the Pennsville program, a midfielder with vision, skill and a scorer's touch.

Johnston misses soccer. He played a tournament with his old club team, Rancocas Valley Premier, this past summer.

"I loved soccer," Johnston said. "I still do."

But Johnston admits that football has become his focus in sports. He knows that some of the reason for that has been pure timing. He joined the Pennsville program during last season's run to the South Jersey Group 1 championship.

This season, he has emerged as a play-making force as a senior for a team with its sights set on another crown.

He said there was nothing in his soccer experience to compare with the crowds and Friday night lights in football. Plus, he's part of a team that is two wins away from another South Jersey title.

"State championship. It doesn't get any better than that," Johnston said.

@PhilAnastasia

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