HELENA – Pressure is nothing new to Parker Johnston.
The youngest of four siblings, the other three girls and all stellar athletes, Johnston has the weight of the world on his shoulders. Not literally, of course, but living up to the family name is no easy task for the Helena Capital junior.
McKenzie Johnston is currently an emerging star on the Montana Lady Grizzlies’ basketball team, leading the team with 12.5 points and five assists per game last winter. Jordan Johnston was a captain at Carroll College, leading the Fighting Saints to the NAIA national tournament. Markki Johnston’s name still sits in the Helena Capital basketball record books.
Following in those footsteps is challenging enough, but Parker Johnston has also heard all of the jokes.
“I’ve always (received) grief about, ‘Being McKenzie’s little brother,’ and stuff like that,” he laughed.
“I give Parker a bad time about some of that stuff. I tell him we wish McKenzie would have played safety for us,” said Capital head football coach Kyle Mihelish. “Joke with him that, ‘You’re the one that’s left out,’ and ‘Your parents forget about you,’ and those types of things. He takes it well. He’s a heck of a kid and he’s a good athlete.”
Parker, a fine basketball player in his own right, is currently finding success on the football fields. A speedy receiver, he turned heads last weekend with a highlight-reel catch against Billings Skyview, stretching, tipping, catching and running for a score.
“What I thought, like we just mentioned, I thought that he was going to get lit up pretty good. The kid ended up on the ground, but Parker did bobble it or whatever, tip it to himself, because the kid is athletic. He does a good job,” said Mihelish. “He’s a basketball kid, but he caught a lot of footballs this summer and during camp and during fall camp. That’s expected. And then he comes from a pretty good lineage, pretty good sisters that can play sports, as well.”
“I ran the wrong route. It was bad. And then I slowed down a little bit, but (quarterback Bridger Grovom) threw me the ball and I got there, luckily. Luckily the safety played the ball and not me. It felt good,” said Parker.
The 5-foot-10 Johnston, who hauled in another eye-opening reception just in front of the goal line, showed incredible concentration on the touchdown, tipping the ball multiple times as he continued downfield. It was a play of pure athleticism from the fans’ vantage point. He saw it differently.
“It was luck. I was trying to catch it, not tip it to myself,” he admitted. “But it felt good.”
— Richie Melby (@richiemelby) September 15, 2018
Among the first to react on Twitter when MTN Sports posted the images? You guessed it, his older sisters.
“They were happy for me. They really liked it,” Parker said. “They just talked about how it was a good catch. It was cool seeing everything on Twitter and stuff, all the people supporting us.”
Your move, sisters.