TRAINING DAYS: Johnson ensures Lions strong, in shape

Patrick Strohecker
  • Ron Johnson heads Red Lion's strength-and-conditioning program.
  • Johnson was a standout player at York Catholic High and Shippensburg University.
  • Johnson was with the Philadelphia Eagles organization in 2003 and 2004.

This week, The York Dispatch is following the Red Lion football team through its first four days of practices, film sessions and strength-and-conditioning workouts as part of a series called "Training Days." Following is the second installment of the series.

RED LION — Red Lion head football coach Jesse Shay has to remind his team, every day, about the importance of its strength-and-conditioning program.

Training Days with Red Lion football

It's not something the players particularly look forward to doing, especially wind sprints after practice, but come game time, it will pay dividends.

Shay reiterated just how many times last season the Lions earned victories in the fourth quarters of games because they were better conditioned than their opponents. That should send the message.

"I told the team (on Monday), there were several times throughout the last couple years that we won games because we were better conditioned going into the fourth quarters," Shay said. "That's not X's and O's. That's a testament to their hard work, but it's also a testament to the program Coach (Ron) Johnson put in place."

Strength-and-conditioning mastermind: Johnson is the mastermind behind Red Lion's strength-and-conditioning program, not just for football, but for pretty much all of athletics at the school.

The former York Catholic standout obtained a degree in speech communications from Shippensburg University, hardly a path to becoming a strength-and-conditioning coach. But, after he finished playing football for the Red Raiders, Johnson went on to play for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2003 and 2004 as a defensive end and linebacker.

Following his retirement from football, Johnson gained an affinity for training athletes because it was a way for him to stay involved with sports, as well as give high school athletes something he didn't have during his high school and college days. This will be Johnson's fifth year with the Red Lion.

"I just have a love for training athletes and knowing where they need to be," said Johnson, who also serves as the defensive line coach for the football team. "When I was in high school and college, we didn't really have strength-and-conditioning programs. We kind of went in as a team together to work out and our coaches put a program together."

Johnson trains the football players all year long, putting together individualized programs together for each specific position for each different part of the year.

During the winter months, immediately following the season's conclusion, the players will go into the gym and that's when they will try to bulk up and put on muscle. Once the spring and summer months roll around, then it comes down to toning and starting to get into playing shape, which can mean actually shedding some weight, and focusing on becoming more mobile and better conditioned.

During this week and the next three weeks leading up to the start of the regular season, Red Lion will be in the weight room twice a week, the same as during the regular season, when it's essential to let the body recover.

TRAINING DAYS: Behind the scenes with Red Lion football

For Johnson, that means altering his strength-and-conditioning programs yet again, this time to account for the players enduring contact during the day.

"You have to be smart about how you design the workouts and program," Johnson said. "...When we're getting ready here, in a couple weeks, to start the season, you got to take into account the amount of practices we have in the summer, preseason, two practices a day, the length of time they're practicing out there, what they're doing conditioning-wise when we're doing conditioning and sprinting and different things that we're doing. You want to keep that in mind while you're designing the programs."

— Reach Patrick Strohecker at