High School Sports

Capital football coach J.D. Johnson steps down for family reasons

J.D. Johnson isn’t shutting the door on coaching football again, but for now, he knows the time has come to step away.

In a surprise announcement Friday, Johnson resigned after eight seasons as Capital High School’s football coach, a move he said he felt “at peace with.” He confirmed he’ll remain on staff as a social studies teacher at Capital.

He just won’t coach, at least for the time being.

Now he’s shifting his priorities to his family, which includes wife Bridget; daughter Savannah, a Black Hills High School junior; and son Hayden, who is autistic and has Tourette syndrome. Resigning has been weighing on his mind since the end of the 2014 season, but he’s been thinking about it over the past few years.

“It doesn’t matter how many state championships or state playoff games you win, if you don’t get it right with your kids, it doesn’t mean anything,” Johnson said. “I really felt the pull in my heart that I needed to enjoy my daughter’s senior year (next year) and focus to help our son. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the offseason going to evaluations and really enjoyed my time spent with him.

“My priorities are doing what I need to do as a father and a husband and continue to be a good coach at home.”

Capital athletic director Steve Bellande, who was in Yakima for the state dance and drill championships, said he received a resignation letter from Johnson via email on Friday.

Johnson arrived at Capital from Las Vegas’ Shadow Ridge High School in 2007. Rebuilding Capital’s level of consistency, both athletically and academically, is one of Johnson’s high points during his eight-year tenure. He took over a Capital program that went 3-7 the year prior to his arrival, and all eight Johnson-coached teams made the playoffs, including state semifinal appearances in 2008 and ’10 as a Class 3A program, and 2012 in Class 2A. He went 63-31 overall and sent more than 20 players to play college football.

But more importantly, he said, what he’ll cherish most about his time at Capital is watching players grow in facets beyond football — and changing lives.

“The wins are a by-product of that,” he said.

Coaching football is on the back burner for now — “coaching is still in my future … the itch will never go away,” he said — but he’ll be in the stands at football games come fall. Savannah is a cheerleader at Black Hills.

“That’ll be an exciting and new experience for me — in the crowd,” he said.