Foreign exchange student part of Carson High football’s ‘Day Care’
Pontus Johansson grew up skating and playing soccer, and then later playing ice hockey. His football was confined to watching the NFL on television.
It’s about what you would expect for a 16-year-old who grew up in Sweden.
Now, Johansson is spending a year in Carson City and at Carson High School as part of the Rotary exchange program. He said he couldn’t wait to give football a try once he arrived in town.
“I really like the Minnesota Vikings,” said Johansson, who said he spent time in Minnesota. “They are fun to watch. I really like Sam Bradford, but he is hurt. My favorite hockey team is the Minnesota Wild.”
There’s the usual learning curve whenever you start something new as Johansson and Carson football coach Blair Roman can attest.
“He came out and said he wanted to try something other than just kicking,” Roman said. “We put him with the defensive backs. I think his head was spinning with all the lingo that we use. If you’ve never played football, it’s hard to understand.”
Johannson eventually said he wanted to kick, and he’s been mentored by veteran kicking coach Jim deArrieta ever since. It seemed a natural fit — a soccer player place-kicking.
It was Johansson who coined the term Coach D’s Day Care.
“First of all, I like to hang out with the kickers,” Johansson said. “They are a lot of fun.
“A huge group of kids like the football team that would be the high school, and you are doing something serious like playing football. We’re a bunch of kids kicking a ball. Day cares are not that big. There are a lot of personalities. Everybody is funny. That is how it is at a day care.”
Johansson didn’t see any action until the blowout win over North Valleys. He had a chance to kick a PAT, but it was blocked. He had a chance to kickoff, and he put the ball into the end zone.
He was pressed into action last week against Manogue as the team’s punter after Jon Acosta suffered a leg injury, and he averaged 30.6 on five attempts with a long of 41. Not a bad debut for a first-year punter.
Four of his five kicks were rugby style where he gets the snap, rolls out and then kicks the ball.
“Rugby kicking is more natural for me,” he said. “I can look upfield and see where the returner is, and try not to kick it to him. It also allows the line to get upfield quicker.”
Roman and deArrieta both said they have been pleased with the results thus far.
The Carson coach said it’s likely Johansson will kick Friday against Damonte Ranch.
‘It’s really exciting to start,” Johansson said. “It feels weird getting a chance to start because of injuries. Jon does a good job when he’s in there, and Chance (Smith) did a good job against Galena.
“Getting air into the ball, getting higher and longer punts. I’ve been working on my technique. I’m trying to do as well as I can.”
Johansson, who said he talks to his parents weekly, said his folks watch highlights of the games on MaxPreps.
“My host family tapes the game whenever I’m in,” Johansson said. “I was more nervous that first time I went in for the PAT. Someone in on the wing didn’t know what they were doing. I kicked the ball in the end zone on the kickoff so I could redeem myself for the PAT.”
Only a junior, the Senators certainly could use Johansson, but exchange programs are only for one year
“We (parents and I) did a lot of paperwork to sign up as an exchange student,” Johansson said. “They choose where you are going to be placed. We asked for the United States. They decided on Nevada and they asked me where do you want to be and I told them Western (Nevada). They eventually placed me in Carson City. They talked to me about it and I said OK.
“I didn’t really think about Las Vegas. It (sounded like) a bad area to live in and it seems a lot of bad things go on there, and that’s from somebody who has never lived there.”
Johansson said he checked Carson City out on line. The 16-year-old junior said he came from a small town in Sweden. He lives in the Silver Oak area, and likes the city.
“I looked at a map on Google, and it looked very small,” he said. “When I got here, it looked like a big town; quite a large town. You meet people you know everywhere. It’s very homey; a close-knit town.
“Being on the football team has helped (with the adjustment). Because we started practicing football before school started, I knew a lot of the guys. A lot of the football guys are really nice. Without football, I wouldn’t have had as easy a time. Most of the kids are friendly here.”
Johansson, who’s part of a Rotary exchange program, is currently staying with the Rowe family. He said he will move in early December and be staying with the Aydelott family.
“I will still be within Silver Oak,” he said. “It’s about 2 minutes away from where I’m at now. I have to switch families at least once. I know I’m just switching once.”
Johansson said he has played golf, but has opted to try out for the track team in the spring, and NIAA rules don’t allow a student-athlete to play two sports in the same season. Johansson said he wants to try the hurdles, the long jump and the 400.
Johansson could certainly help Carson next year as a punter and place-kicker, and it’s something he’d like to do. The problem is exchange students placements are only for a year.
“I would love to stay another year,” Johansson said. “I have looked into it. It’s a lot of work for people to take you into their home. I’d basically have to find somebody to live with. It is asking a lot. Living at somebody’s house is different when they want you there or have asked to have (you or another exchange student) you there. But if I ask that’s very wrong honestly. I’d love to come back, but there are a lot of steps to actually do it. I’d like to finish what I started.”