Feb. 23—It was anything but an average Monday for Riverside's Johnny Gilchrist.
On the same day he was named to the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Small School East-West all-star game, the area's all-time leading passer announced he will continue his athletic career at Monmouth University in New Jersey.
"Making my decision and being selected to be part of the East all-star team is just pretty overwhelming," said Gilchrist, who will turn 18 next week. "I just feel such a sense of being grateful for everyone who has been a part of this journey. Football is the ultimate team sport, and I am thankful for everyone who has supported me for all four years and my entire life. They are all a very big part of this big day."
Monmouth competes in the Big South Conference as a member of the Football Championship Subdivision.
The senior led the Vikings through the coronavirus pandemic to compete in 10 games last fall, compiling staggering numbers in the passing game. Throwing to a corps of first-year receivers, Gilchrist completed 200 of 363 passes for 2,446 yards and 20 touchdowns with seven interceptions. In his four seasons, the 5-foot-10, 185-pounder finished with 7,462 yards to become the all-time leader in career passing yards in Lackawanna Interscholastic Athletic Association. His 84 touchdowns rank second.
Gilchrist earned Times-Tribune All-Region honors and was named to the Pennsylvania Football Writers Class 2A All-State Team.
"It's been a difficult year in so many ways, but I have to give credit to my family, my coaches, teammates and the people in our community," Gilchrist said. "We made the best out of this year. The recruiting was stressful. I had a big sigh of relief when I made my decision. Now I can look forward instead of worrying about what is ahead."
Monmouth opened spring practice in preparation for a four-game season that is scheduled to open March 13 against Robert Morris. The Hawks were picked by the conference officials to finish first in a preseason poll and received a national ranking of 21st by Athlon Preseason FCS Poll and 22nd in the HeroSports preseason poll.
Gilchrist visited the campus and practice Sunday.
"I had been in contact with the coaches and a couple of weeks ago, they extended to me an opportunity," Gilchrist said. "What drew me in was, they have an established staff, a program on the rise and it's a great location and area. That was the icing on the cake to be able to see the campus. I just felt when they gave me an opportunity and there were players and recruits who reached out to me, that it just went a long way to me deciding this was the place I wanted to be. They made me feel part of a potential family, and that reminded me a lot of what I had here at Riverside in that aspect."
Former Lackawanna Football Conference players Nick Shoemaker, a defensive lineman from Dunmore, and Chance Smith, a defensive lineman from Wallenpaupack, are also at Monmouth.
Gilchrist, who is ranked second in his class, is class president. He is also a member of the National Honor Society, the scholastic bowl, the science club, the Lackawanna Historical Society, the yearbook club and school newspaper staff.
At Monmouth, Gilchrist plans to study business administration, finance and accounting.
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