Senior Spotlight: Makai Johnson of Newberry

Makai Johnson of Newberry High School ended his senior season in memorable fashion.

This past May, Johnson helped lead Newberry (25-1) to the FHSAA Baseball Class 1A state title. He scored the winning run in the state championship game, a 7-5 win against Chipley.

It was the Panthers’ first state baseball title in program history.

“The state championship was a goal for him and his teammates and a great ending to a storied career,” said his dad, Ed Johnson, who was also his varsity football coach. “Seeing him graduating with honors and a scholarship makes our entire family extremely proud.”

The senior shortstop, who signed to play at Tallahassee Community College next spring, earned All Area recognition after hitting .494 with 42 hits, 38 runs, a team-high 34 RBI, 11 doubles and four home runs. He finished second on the team with 18 stolen bases.

But there’s more to Makai than his offense.

“His defense at shortstop is unmatched,” said Newberry coach Mike Spina.

This past year on the gridiron, Makai was an All Area honorable mention after throwing and running for a combined 1,600 yards with 24 touchdowns.

The elder Johnson said it meant a lot to him to be able to coach his son.

“Coaching Makai was a blessing for a variety of reasons,” he explained. “I was his first coach and we’ve spent countless hours talking, learning sports, and learning lessons during the process. It was also easy because he is a hard worker, focused and gives his best effort every day.”

During his junior year in football, Makai helped Newberry to a 9-1 regular season and a playoff appearance after throwing for 546 yards with nine touchdowns and rushing for 259 yards and three more scores.

Last spring, he was batting .500 through seven games for the Panthers’ baseball team, with a team leading 11 hits, before COVID-19 ended the 2020 season.

As a sophomore, Johnson was a Gainesville Sun first team All Area selection in 2019 after hitting .370 with nine doubles, one home run, 21 runs driven in and 18 stolen bases.

 

This is the latest in our summer “Senior Spotlight” series recognizing some of the top area student athletes from the Class of 2021.

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