Aledo (Texas) High junior running back Johnathan Gray allegedly entered the Texas Class 4A Division II final nursing a knee injury. Let's just say that if he was nursing a bum wheel, it's terrifying to think what he could do when completely healthy; the star almost singlehandedly led his team to a state title behind a championship game record-shattering performance that included eight touchdowns and 325 yards on the ground.
The eight trips to the end zone also lifted Gray to an even more impressive mark, one for rushing touchdowns in a season. The junior finished with 59 touchdowns, breaking a 57-year-old record held by former Texas prep legend Ken Hall.
The fact that he did so in a 69-34 rout of La Marque (Texas) High that wrapped up a state title for the Bearcats made the dual records all the more special. Yet that hardly registered for Gray, who was focused solely on ensuring his team accomplished the goal it set for itself at the start of the year: Winning a state crown.
"The second half ... someone came up to me and said, 'If you score two more touchdowns you'll tie the record.' " Gray told the Dallas Morning News. "It kind of went in one ear and out the other."
For his part, Hall had no idea anyone was near his season touchdowns mark until recently, a fact which helped ensure the former Sugar Land (Texas) High star tuned in to the Class 4A state title game on Friday night.
"I didn't even know someone was near it," the 75-year-old Hall told the Morning News. "When I heard it, I was like, 'He might do it.'
"Now I didn't think he would score eight, or 12, or 15, or whatever he did."
Yet that's precisely what Gray, the son of former standout Texas Tech running back James Gray, did in a performance that can only be classified as miraculous. It was so impressive, in fact, that Hall hopes he gets to meet the runner at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which is held in San Antonio, not far from the former star's home in Fredericksburg, Texas.
"I'd be surprised if he's not [selected]," Hall told the Morning News.