|Christian Johnson '13 (left) and D'ylan Richardson '13 (right) with Christian's brother Joe Johnson '16, a Marian University cheerleader, at the Marian-St. Francis football game.|
By Beth Murphy,
Director of Marketing Communications
Together they played football as teammates at Scecina. In their junior and senior years, the Crusaders captured Semi-State titles and played in back-to-back state championship games. Together the two Crusader teammates went off to the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne. Now, they are national football champions.
Christian Johnson and D’ylan Richardson, members of the Scecina Class of 2013, both play defensive tackle for Saint Francis’ football team. As Cougars, Johnson and Richardson advanced to the semifinal round of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) championship last year but lost to their archrival Marian University, who went on to capture the title.
This year, after losing only one game (to Marian!), the Cougars went all the way to winning the NAIA championship, defeating the Baker University (Kansas) Wildcats 38-17 on Dec. 17 in Daytona Beach, Fla.
“It was a pretty big deal,” Johnson said. “I mean, to go through four years of things that I’d rather not (go through) and a lot of work, it made it all worthwhile.”
He added: "I don't like to lose."
“It was very exciting,” Richardson added. “If you would have told us back a few years ago when we were 6-5 and didn’t make the playoffs, I wouldn’t believe we would be national champions.” Johnson (6-2, 276 pounds) and Richardson (6-1, 249 pounds) are seniors at Saint Francis, playing football on scholarship.
“Both are good strong competitors and good teammates,” said Scecina head football coach Ott Hurrle ’70. “They both represented our program well at St. Francis, from what the coaches have told me, and I don’t doubt it at all.”
Johnson came up through the CYO football ranks, playing for Little Flower Catholic School, where he attended. Hurrle remembers Richardson coming to Scecina as a junior who had never played much football before. Later, Johnson, who was an Indiana All-Star, had already been recruited by St. Francis when Hurrle saw one of the USF coaches and told him, "You might want to take a look at this other guy (Richardson)." Hurrle sent video and Richardson ended up at the school.
"I'm real glad for them winning the national championship," said Hurrle.
Richardson was at Lucas Oil Stadium in Downtown Indianapolis on New Year’s Day when the Colts honored the NAIA champs at their NFL game against Jacksonville. Johnson couldn’t make it for the Colts reception, but he enjoyed the hoopla and honors the local Fort Wayne community showed them.
Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry was on the sidelines at the championship game as was St. Francis President Sister Elisse Kriss, OSF. The university is planning a larger celebration on campus in January.
Both Johnson and Richardson could play a fifth year because they didn’t play as freshmen. Johnson already has decided instead to graduate in the spring with his bachelor of arts in computer animation and pursue a career as a video game creator in Canada or California.
Richardson remains undecided about whether he will play another year of college football. He plans to graduate in the spring with a bachelor of arts in graphic design.
“Playing football offered me the chance to get my education, which I’m thankful for,” said Richardson. “Going to Scecina helped me get the football scholarship, which led to me being a national champion.”