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Johnson excelled in four sports during his senior year at Central Valley High School
Kendel Johnson starred in multiple sports at Central Valley High School, including football. The dual-threat quarterback totaled 1,874 yards and 22 touchdowns during his final season with the Hawks. - photo by DAVE CAMPBELL/The Courier

Kendel Johnson lettered in four sports during his senior year at Central Valley High School, including football, basketball, baseball and track and field.

"He's one of the most fierce competitors I've ever met," said Jason McCloskey, Johnson's football coach for the past two seasons. "When you challenge him, he'll step up."

A dual-threat quarterback on the gridiron, Johnson earned second-team all-Western Athletic Conference honors.

He ran for 1,091 yards and 11 touchdowns in 11 games.

He threw for 783 yards with 10 TDs and eight interceptions.

Kendel also had a 23-yard TD reception.

"It took him some time to get used to what we were doing," McCloskey said. "Obviously, it worked."

Johnson helped lead the Hawks to unprecedented heights.

Central Valley qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the first time.

The Hawks also posted their first-ever winning record (6-5).
"I enjoyed being a part of that," Johnson said.

Kendel earned invitations to compete in a pair of all-star football games.

Johnson was named Most Valuable Player as the South battled to a 21-21 tie with the North in the 41st Annual Lions Club All-Star contest on June 14 at Tracy High School.

He passed for 132 yards and two touchdowns.

He led all rushers with 80 yards.

"People saw a different side of me," Kendel said. "I'm not just an option quarterback. I can be a pocket passer. I can roll out more. I want everyone to be part of the game. I didn't think I'd be MVP of the whole game. There were so many good athletes out there. It's really special. I did something good for our school and community."

Johnson was the top defender on Central Valley's history-making boys basketball team, which amassed a program-best 22-7 record, qualified for the postseason for the first time and finished second overall in the WAC standings (9-3).

Kendel averaged 10.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

Johnson totaled 24 points as the Hawks had a 1-1 mark in the Division-III playoffs.

Kendel collected 11 points during 11th-seeded Central Valley's 60-43 upset of No. 6 Sierra in the opening round on Feb. 26 in Manteca.

He scored 13 points in a 61-58 loss to No. 3 Fairfield in the quarterfinals on Feb. 28.

Johnson and Central Valley defeated crosstown-rival Ceres High twice.

"Kendel was instrumental in us making the playoffs," Hawks head coach Darryl Dickson said. "He played exceptional defense. He got better each and every game. He's got such a huge upside."

Kendel received first-team, all-league accolades in baseball. The left-handed hitter/outfielder ranked first on the team in triples (four), RBIs (20), runs (23), stolen bases (24), on-base percentage (.479), slugging percentage (.519) and on-base plus slugging percentage (.998).

Johnson was second in doubles (five) and walks (14), third in hits (27), and fifth in batting average (.351).

Central Valley, which participated in the playoffs for the first time in program history in 2013, placed fourth in the conference standings (6-6) this year. The Hawks posted a 17-10 overall record.

Kendel turned down an offer to play in the 25th Annual Modesto Sunrise Rotary Baseball Classic. The all-star football and baseball games were staged on the same day.

Central Valley's 4x100 relay team of Johnson, Angelo Bermudez, Ja'Quan Gardner and Alex Vazquez placed first at the WAC Boys Track & Field Championships on May 10 in Patterson.

Johnson, Bermudez, Gardner and Vazquez finished third in a school-record time of 43.11 seconds at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV-V meet on May 20 at Stanislaus State.

The Hawk quartet took 15th at the Masters competition on May 29 at Elk Grove High School.

Kendel's sister Jode was a three-time winner of the Ceres High School Female Athlete of the Year Award. She earned 10 varsity letters, including four in basketball and three in both softball and volleyball.

"You look at his family and there's good genetics," McCloskey said. "They were all great athletes and fast. They're gifted."

"I wanted to be just like her (Jode) or better," said Kendel, who earned seven varsity letters. "I didn't talk about it a lot. That's all I thought about when I was playing. That was my motivation. She made me want to work harder."

Johnson was a ball boy for the Bulldogs' football team during his childhood.

Kendel sat out the first six games of the 2012 varsity football season after transferring from Beyer High School to Central Valley.

"I went to CV because they were doing well in sports," Johnson said. "I had a lot of friends there. I just wanted to have fun and have some new experiences. I'm pretty satisfied."

Kendel, who maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.4 at Central Valley, plans to continue his football and baseball careers at Modesto Junior College.

"You're going to see him blossom when he concentrates on one or two sports," McCloskey said. "I'd love to see him play football. He can play a spread quarterback at any level. I can see him being a defensive back. But it's his decision."