Shelby Johnson and the Johansen High boys water polo team had been building toward this moment for a few years now.
In their final season in Modesto Metro Conference, the Vikings captured the title and Johnson, an electric junior, the MVP.
Johansen advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs for the first time in three years, defeating Roseville 11-4 in the first round. The Vikings finished with a 25-6 overall record, including 12-0 in conference.
“My freshman year, we didn’t have the best water polo team,” recalled Johnson, who scored 105 goals in 31 matches and was named to the all-section Division II team. “Moving through the years, we kind of got a little better. We knew this year could be a good year for us.”
Johnson helped steer the Vikings’ resurgence. His game grew with every camp and clinic he attended, and then he benefited from a position change this fall. He was pulled out of the middle of the pool and used on the wings, attacking teams with his speed.
“I found an instant home there,” Johnson said. “It really worked well with my speed and endurance.”