When You think about the Fall, there is one thing that comes to the minds of many young people throughout Elmont, that is football season. For many of our aspiring gridiron greats, practices have started in earnest and the hot sun blazing during the day is toughening them up for the contests that are right around the corner.
Elmont.org wanted to profile 4 of Elmont Memorial High School’s football greats and look beneath the surface of these young men. Our four spotlights are on Qusarn Caldwell, Kyle Johnson, Michael Braun and Brandon Brown. This week, we look at Caldwell and Johnson.
Each of these young men have impressed the greater Elmont community on and off the athletic field. Now, we get to meet them and see what makes them tick as individuals, and what motivates them on the field.
Over, Gino’s Pizzeria famous Buffalo Chicken and Sicilian Slices on a hot Friday night, this is what they had to say about their upcoming season and school.
|“The Easy Going Smile-
But Eye of the Tiger”
Qusarn Caldwell- Quarterback
|“Speak Softly and Hit Hard”
Kyle Johnson - Receiver
Position: Quarterback and Safety
Spartan to Watch: Noah Bakonga
Birthday: August 22nd
Elementary School: Explorer Charter School
Favorite NFL Team: Philadelphia Eagles
Favorite TV Show: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Something People Don’t’ Know: He was a gymnast and loves the Trampoline
Favorite Saying: “With great power comes great responsibility”Why He Likes Elmont Memorial: “Elmont pushes you academically and they have high expectations. I like that because everybody can always do better. Elmont has made me a better student and person.”
His Inspiration: “My mom inspires me every day. She always told me that hard works gets you far in life. I look at her and her personal sacrifices and know she’s right.”
College Choice: Syracuse University
Position: Receiver and Linebacker
Spartan to Watch: Devin Guere
Birthday: June 14th
Elementary School: Dutch Broadway School
Nickname: “Big Kyle Johnson”
Favorite NFL Team: Baltimore Ravens
Favorite TV Show: Fresh Prince of Bel Aire
Something People Don’t’ Know: Loves to Swim
Favorite Saying: “Character is how you live when nobody is watching”
Why He Likes Elmont Memorial: “I’ve always wanted to play high school sports and compete as a Spartan. The relationships you have with the teachers at Elmont and how they work and motivate you makes our school one of the best.”
His Inspiration: “My Mom and Dad inspire me by showing me good examples in life. They have always been there for me.”
College Choice: Stonybrook University
When Qusarn Caldwell walks into a room, you know he’s there, at 16 years of age and at a towering 6 feet 1 inches, the 11th grade Quarterback cuts an imposing figure. Humble and quick witted, Caldwell eases into the chair and the look of his eyes tell you everything. He can’t wait for his football season to begin. Caldwell is an excellent academic student who wants to go to Syracuse University and study Science. His choice of major is obvious as his answers throughout the interview have a logical progression and are uttered with great thought. Throughout the past year and a half, Caldwell served as a community liaison with State Assemblyman Tom Alfano and was part of the coordination committee for the 2010 3-on-3 held at Dutch Broadway School. His job as a community liaison to the Assemblyman was a direct result of Caldwell’s quick response to an emergency situation in his neighborhood where he contacted police, helped families and assisted neighbors in the aftermath of last fall’s wind and rain storm.
Elmont Memorial Season 2010
What Caldwell likes the most about football is what coaches dream of in their players, “you need to execute in order to score. You have to work hard at every play and every play is an opportunity.” The quarterback lights up when he talks about his practices. “They’re hard but everybody is stepping up and we’re coming together as a team.”
When asked about what he thinks Elmont’s record will be this season, Caldwell doesn’t hesitate for a second. “If we listen and do the work, we can go all the way and go 12 and 0. We’re a hard working family and the coaches make us strive harder and harder every practice. We’re a powerhouse. What we need to do is channel it and listen”
Elmont’s strength, according to Caldwell, is that it’s a motivated team. “Last year we didn’t work nearly hard enough. This year it feels different and we have to shine. We can do it and we will.” At the same time as the Elmont quarterback talks about the team’s strengths, he also quickly points out that “it takes discipline. And, we have to remember we are all a team and focus is the key.”
Caldwell’s advice may stem from the memory of last year’s Garden City game where the Elmont Quarterback observed a simple truth of that game, “they came ready to play and we didn’t, so we paid the price.” This year, according to Caldwell, the Spartan team is much more focused and determined than ever, “we’re going to live up to our potential and people are going to see that we are more than just a one man team. We have depth and we work together as a unit.”
There’s no question that this season for Caldwell will be an exciting one. He just hopes that it lives up to last year’s game against Levittown where with three seconds left on the clock, he connected with a game winning touchdown pass to receiver Ben Odugbesan.
Kyle Johnson is no stranger to sports. From the time he could walk, he carried a ball and sat on the sidelines watching his older brothers Marcus and Kevin play youth football. In fact, his mom was the first female football coach in Elmont history. Today, his older brother sits in the stands and watches Kyle blaze new records and paths on the football field. Kyle Johnson isn’t a showboat, rather a quiet and intense player whose competitive streak that’s been developed being the youngest of three brothers. He brings that same focus in the classroom as the Elmont Junior has set his sights on Stonybrook University and becoming a pediatrician.
When you meet Kyle Johnson, you see right from the start that this young man knows what he wants to do and is determined to go and get it. Intensity and heart are two words you subscribe to Johnson. That’s probably why he is a key member of the Spartan squad and someone his teammates will look towards for leadership during the season. On defense, Johnson is an imposing linebacker and an offensive player’s nightmare. You know this to be true when Johnson says his favorite part of the game is “hitting, and the thrill and rush of a hit.” On offense, his skills as the Spartans Receiver are a secret weapon that will no doubt be put to good use. In the off season, Johnson hones his running and speed skills on the Lacrosse field and can be seen running, biking and playing basketball throughout the Elmont community. In the community, Johnson has volunteered his time as a referee at the 3-on-3 Basketball tournament at Dutch Broadway School.
Elmont Memorial 2010
Kyle Johnson knows Elmont’s strengths and weaknesses and makes no bones about it. “We have a really good work ethic and we work well as a team. We all like each other and having a downhill defense is a really big plus.” For Johnson, this year for the Spartans is much different than the past. “Our defense is really solid. Practices are running smoothly and the offense is executing well. Last year it was different. It’s the chemistry of the team. We work well together.” That teamwork will be put to the test this year.
The Spartan receiver recalled the last year’s Levittown game where fighting to the bitter end and never giving up was essential to the game. With seconds to go in the game, Elmont’s work ethic tied the game up and scored the win in the divisional playoff. “That was our toughest game because we had to dig deep. We did it. This year, we’ll do it again.” If there is a weakness on the Elmont team, Johnson says it’s the fact that teammates need to “get there on time and ready to play.” But, Johnson quickly adds, “that’s up to us to get on our team and make them step up.”
Johnson is looking at the 2010 season as being full of opportunities for the Spartan squad. “We’re ready. But we have to come in explosive and hit hard. For me, I have something to prove to people and I will. Nobody expects us to win, but I know we’re going to prove them wrong. You gotta be tough in this game and I’m ready. I wanna win.” That can do spirit Johnson possess is a potent weapon that observers say make Johnson a force to be reckoned with on the football field.
If motivation is a key to the game of football, Kyle needs only to look back at his game from last year against the Carey Seahawks. The rivalry of Elmont and Franklin Square is legendary and Johnson fed into that history by scoring three touchdowns and helping win the game for the Spartans 28-3. “That game was exciting and I’ll never forget it. I was on my ‘A’ game and that’s what I’m bringing to the squad this year,” Johnson remarked.