Ethan Johnson is the new single-season passing king in the Moose Jaw High School Football League.
The Central Cyclones senior quarterback threw for 313 yards in their 35-14 win over the Weyburn Eagles on Tuesday, giving him 1,853 yards in six games during the regular season. That surpassed Sawyer Buettner's record-setting 2014 season by 187 yards on his way to setting the new mark.
"It feels incredible, being up there with people like my coach Mr. Belsher and Sawyer, it's really incredible to be up with them, they're both really good football players, it just feels unreal," said Johnson.
In a strong indication of the growth of the passing game in the local league, Buettner held the record for just four seasons after breaking Colin Belsher's mark, which stood for 20 seasons.
Johnson threw for over 300 yards in five out of six games this season with the undefeated Yorkton Raiders being the lone team to hold him under the 300-yard barrier.
Over the course of the season, Johnson had just 44 incomplete passes, finishing 111-for-115 while throwing 22 touchdowns and just one interception.
After throwing for 1,319 yards in his first year as a starter in 2017, Johnson said he came into the season confident with a strong team around him.
"I felt like I had a chance (to break the record), we had a lot of returning players so it was the same people that I was throwing to and I had a lot of confidence in them and a lot of confidence in me getting better over the summer, so I thought I could get close to it this year," said Johnson.
The successful season wasn't all Johnson alone as he was blessed with an offence that returned many key parts from last season, including CJ Vincent, who moved into second place all-time in receiving yards this season, as well as Josh Reidy, Riley Seaborn and Mathew Dyck.
Johnson said the team around him made life easy for him this season, "Having an O-line that doesn't let me get hit, having running backs that run hard and get lots of yards, and receivers that are great at what they do and make plays, make it really fun and easy for me," he said.
"We met as a team a couple of times per week over the summer to just throw the ball around, work on our routes and chemistry and it paid dividends in the season, you could tell."
The record is in the rearview mirror now for Johnson and his Cyclone teammates, however, as they turn their attention to the postseason and capturing the school's first league championship since 2007.
"We have a lot of confidence in our group and we feel like we can do great things this postseason," said Johnson. "We can't have any mistakes, we feel that only we can stop ourselves on offence with penalties, drop balls and miscommunications, so if we take care of our mistakes, we'll be good."
The Cyclones went 5-1 during the regular season to finish in second place behind the defending champion Raiders. Central's lone loss came in Yorkton and Johnson said they want another shot at the Raiders.
"Our whole team is hungry for that, we felt like we didn't play our game against them, so we're going to work hard, take it week-by-week and hopefully we'll see them in the final," he said.
The playoffs open this weekend with three quarterfinal games on Saturday.
The second place Cyclones take on the seventh place Vanier Vikings at Gutheridge at noon followed by the fourth place Peacock Tornadoes hosting the fifth place Weyburn Eagles at 2:15 p.m.
The other quarterfinal has third place Swift Current facing sixth place Estevan, while Yorkton has a bye into next weekend's semifinals.