Shore Sports Network Defensive Player of the Year: St. John Vianney’s Johnny Buchanan
From the time he stepped onto the field as a sophomore for St. John Vianney, Johnny Buchanan had the look of a player who was going to make a major impact and become one of the best football players in the Shore Conference.
Throughout his career for the Lancers he did exactly that, and as a senior was a force at linebacker to be selected as the 2017 Shore Sports Network Defensive Player of the Year.
Buchanan capped a tremendous career at St. John Vianney by starring on both sides of the ball and leading the Lancers to a fourth straight Class A Central division title, a 10-1 record that included extending their Shore Conference winning streak to 38 games, and the No. 1 ranking in the final Shore Sports Network Top 10.
On the defensive side and as the leader of St. John Vianney’s defense, Buchanan made 121 tackles, including 74 solo stops and seven tackles for loss, recorded two sacks and added an interception. He averaged 11 tackles per game and had seven games where he recorded double-digit tackles even though the Lancers were holding big leads and Buchanan did not play the full game.
There are players with more tackles, sacks and interceptions than Buchanan, but even though his numbers are very good to understand his greatness you to see him in action. Buchanan played with a physical edge between the tackles and with enough athleticism to play sideline to sideline, blitz when needed and be effective in coverage. More than anything, though, Buchanan played his best when his team needed him most.
During an Oct. 14 game with Rumson-Fair Haven at Rutgers University, Buchanan was excellent with 10 tackles (seven solo) and a key sack late in the game that helped the Lancers rally for a 31-28 overtime win that effectively clinched the A Central title. The following week St. John Vianney took on Red Bank Catholic in a marquee battle of the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the Shore, and Buchanan once again raised his level of play with 14 tackles (nine solo) and a clutch interception in the end zone that helped the Lancers to an impressive 35-17 victory.
On the offensive side of the ball, Buchanan was one of the top running back in the Shore Conference with 1,393 yards and 17 touchdowns. He had six 100-yard games, including a career-high 294 yards on 29 carries in a 45-40 win over Camden Catholic in the first round of the NJSIAA Non-Public Group III playoffs. Buchanan also had 11 tackles against the Irish in an amazing two-way performance.
Buchanan was also clutch as a runner in SJV’s biggest games, rushing for 115 yards and a touchdown on just 12 carries in the win over Rumson and carrying the load against RBC with 27 carries for 242 yards and two touchdowns.
Buchanan will continue his football career at the University of Delaware and will enter college football as one of St. John Vianney’s all-time greats. A two-year starter, Buchanan concluded his high school career with 268 tackles (171 solo, 17 for loss), seven sacks and three interceptions at linebacker, plus 1,845 yards rushing and 28 touchdowns on an average of 8.2 yards per carry.
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.