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A blog about sports in Montana, with an emphasis on Flathead Valley High Schools.
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Football ‘Legend’ Jack Johnson Retires from Coaching After 41 Seasons
Local coaches reflect on longtime C.M. Russell coach's legacy
Last week, longtime Great Falls C.M. Russell football coach Jack Johnson announced his retirement after 41 seasons. During Johnson’s esteemed career the Rustlers won 340 games and 13 Class AA state championships, including eight between 1980 and 1992. The team had seven other runner-up finishes. His win total ranks No. 1 in state history and his championship collection is tied for first all-time with Swede Dahlberg, according to the Montana High School Association.

Two of Johnson’s fellow Class AA head coaches — Flathead’s Russell McCarvel and Glacier’s Grady Bennett — offered a few comments on Johnson and the impressive program and tradition he built over four decades.

Flathead head coach Russell McCarvel:
“CMR was always one of the most fundamentally sound teams you would ever play against. To look at his longevity, number of wins, and state titles is truly remarkable, not only for the state of Montana but nationally. Another aspect of his coaching is his ability to adapt. He started in the ’70’s and he was able to adapt offensively and defensively to any changes in football. His offense certainly wasn’t from the ’70’s. He produced some of the great QB’s this state has seen.”

Glacier head coach Grady Bennett:
“Jack is a legend. He’s the dean of coaches in Montana and not just in football but arguably of all sports. He’s the one who’s set the standard for everyone else to follow. Jack was the first coach to implement so many different innovations in all aspects of the sport of football both on and off the field and both in and out of season. Everyone else just followed along and tried to do what CMR was doing to try to catch up or keep up. I know for myself personally, when faced with the task of building a brand new program at a brand new high school like Glacier, I used many of the ideas, concepts and philosophies of Jack Johnson to lay the foundation.”
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