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November 23, 2009

Johnston plays with extremely heavy heart

Thomas Jefferson quarterback Sam Johnston knew that Friday night's Class AAA WPIAL semifinal game would be a tough battle.

What he didn't know was that it would be the easier of the two challenges he'd have to face in a very short period of time.

Johnston's father, Robert, 48, died unexpectedly on Thursday of a brain hemorrhage.

But despite playing with an extremely heavy heart, Johnston did just that - he played.

"That was the one thing I was always positive on," Johnston told Kevin Gorman of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I knew it was what he'd want me to do. It always felt right."

Thomas Jefferson (11-1) lost the game, 28-21, to West Allegheny (10-2).

Johnston was 7-of-16 for just over 130 yards in the loss.

"Under the circumstances, he was awesome," Thomas Jefferson coach Bill Cherpak told Gorman. "I think he wanted to be in his comfort zone and being back there throwing the ball is what he does. I'm sure he grew up throwing passes to his dad, and it meant a lot to him."

To read Gorman's full story about Johnston's courageous performance, click here.


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