By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Offense, defense, special teams, Tahj Sho-Johnson played an important role in all three departments last Friday night as he and the Princeton Tigers defeated the Bluefield Beavers 32-29.
Johnson ran for 199 yards, had an interception, kicked two extra points and punted for the Tigers who improved to 2-0 on the season. For his accolades, Sho-Johnson is the Pocahontas Coal Association/Bluefield Daily Telegraph Player of the Week.
“It is really good, winning with my teammates, because we have been working hard,” the 5’7 senior said. “Bluefield is a good team and we’re a good team too. It was a good match-up between us and Bluefield.”
Johnson had touchdown runs of 68 and 1 yard and booted two extra points, accounting for 14 of the Tigers’ 32 points. His defensive resume included an interception, but what did not show up in the statistics was the fact that the Beavers did not throw nor run much in his direction.
Princeton Head Coach Randy Peek talked about Sho-Johnson’s importance to the team.
“Friday night he had 31 carries, he kicked extra points, he does kickoffs and plays corner on defense. I think he led the team in tackles. He’s an all-around player. You wish you had 11 Tahjs,” Peek said. “He has bought into what we are doing this year and he’s doing a great job. He’s 100 percent in.”
When asked whether he preferred playing offense, defense, or special teams, Sho-Johnson had no preference.
“It really doesn’t matter to me. I’ll play it all. Wherever Coach wants to put me, I’ll do it. I love playing anywhere,” Sho-Johnson said.
Peek commented, “I don’t think I could say what his strongest point is because he’s done everything great for us. He has also been a leader. He has stepped up and done everything we’ve asked him and we are so proud of him.”
Sho-Johnson came to Princeton and the United States when he was five years old from West Africa. His older brother Dashi was also a speedy running and defensive back and kicker for the Tigers and has provided Tahj inspiration and advice.
“He (Dashi) influenced me because he is my big brother and I look up to him. He always motivates me, tells me what to do, ‘Go out and do your own thing and everything will come through,’ So I listen to him,” Sho-Johnson said.
A former soccer player at PSHS, Sho-Johnson decided this year not to play both sports.
“It was hard on me playing both sports, soccer and football,” Sho-Johnson commented. “I just made up my mind to stick with football this year.”
Getting his start on the gridiron with the youth league team the Raiders, Sho-Johnson later played middle school football for Peek at Princeton Middle School and the coach knew he had a special talent.
“I saw it in middle school. You can’t teach that kind of speed,” Peek said. “You’ve either got it or you don’t and he’s definitely got that kind of speed. Now not only does he have the speed, but he’s got the strength to break tackles and he does a good job at that. He’s a shut down corner on defense. He comes up, turns everything in and makes tackles.”
Sho-Johnson said that he spends time conditioning at The Training Edge in Princeton and with his teammates.
Upon being informed that he is the PCA/BDT Player of the Week, Sho-Johnson said, “I would like to thank God and my teammates, my coaches and all my trainers who have been helping me since I have been in high school. I’m thankful for everything.”
Sho-Johnson and the Tigers travel to Charleston, Friday night to take on the third ranked (Charleston Daily Mail poll) Capital Cougars at Laidley Field.
Players of the Week
Week 1: R.J. Bourne, Bluefield
Week 2: Tahj Sho-Johnson, Princeton
Bluefield: R.J. Bourne 96 yards rushing with TD run of 2 yards, 4-of-6 passing in loss to Princeton
Giles: Brett Whitlow 173 yards with TD run of 74 yards and three extra point kicks in win at Christiansburg.
Graham: Charlie Benfield 105 yards rushing with 14 yard TD run; Dylan Cook 107 yards rushing and 24 yard TD run; Adam Carbaugh 14 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception in win over Tazewell.
James Monroe: Reed McNeer 89 yards rushing with 35 yard TD run, 6-of-12 passing for 76 yards with 46 yard TD pass.
Narrows: Rodney Perdue 79 yards rushing and 5 yard TD run in win over Eastern Montgomery.
PikeView: Hunter Moses 92 yards rushing in win over Independence.
Richlands: Colton Staten 185 yards rushing in loss at Union.
River View: Jordan Wilson 152 yards rushing with TD runs of 20, 32 and 23 yards in win over Buffalo.
Summers County: T.J. Smith 99 yards rushing with 9 yard TD run, 7-14 passing for 104 yards with TD passes of 20 and 5 yards in win at James Monroe.
Tazewell: Jacob McReynolds 107 yards rushing in loss at Graham.