Curry and Johnson Face-off


Orlando Dominguez/TM and Courtesy of the Renegade Rip

Dion Curry and Julian Dean Johnson will face each other for the third time on Saturday.

Steven Quintana

The Cerritos College football team (6-2) will host its final home game of the season as it will take on Bakersfield College, who’s record is 7-1 on the season, only having lost to the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, Mt. SAC.

This game will also showcase a rematch of two of the top players, statistically, of both teams, running back Julian Dean Johnson from Bakersfield and receiver Dion Curry from Cerritos.

This will be the third match-up between both players. Their last meeting was three years ago, which ended with Johnson’s alma-matter (North High School) defeating Curry’s school (West High School) 40-13.

“Julian came from a very rough background,” Allen Thigpen, director of the mentoring program, We Are G.A.M.E (Getting Athletes Mentoring and Education), which both Johnson and Curry are in.

Johnson’s father was not in his life and his deaf mother battled a drug addiction, and has four brothers.

Johnson got into gang life at a young age. Johnson joined a gang when he was 12 after his older brother, Chris, joined.

“I wanted to be what he was so I started gang banging with him,” Johnson said in a previous interview.

He spent 30 days in juvenile hall after getting in an altercation with a rival gang member.

His life started to turn when he found out his girlfriend was pregnant. Johnson joined his junior varsity team and he started pulling away from his gang life.

“He is a very dedicated, humble, and respectable guy,” Thigpen stated. “I always tell him ‘Call me Allen’ and he still calls me Mr. Thigpen.”

Johnson has come a long way since his gang life. “He has done very well, he is now talking about graduating from college,” Thigpen said.

Despite racking up some positive numbers on the field in high school, the Bakersfield head coach Jeff Chudy was still skeptical whether Johnson would be good enough.

“I didn’t think he would be as good as a runner as he turned out to be. He put on some muscle since high school so he definitely proved me wrong,” Chudy said.

“Originally I saw Dion (Curry) at the Arena Bowl. I went to go see Julian and I saw Dion and I said ‘WOW! Who is that’,” Thigpen said. “He was actually the defensive player of the game, which just shows his versatility as a player.”

“My life was pretty good,” Curry said. “My mom did a good job keeping me away from poverty and bad neighborhoods.”

“He comes from a good Christian family,” Thigpen mentioned after he remembered seeing Dion helping his mom at a shelter handing out food to poor people.

Curry and Johnson have been playing against each other since they were in the eighth grade.

“I didn’t know him personally, but I knew of him because people talked about him, because he was a good running back,” Curry said.

“I think he has improved significantly in football since high school, with the proper coaching,” Thigpen said, “and I’ve seen him turn into a fine young man.”

Curry believes that this continuation of his meeting on the field with Johnson will be a good match-up.

“It’s going to be exciting because he is a good running back and I feel that I’m a pretty good receiver, so it is going to be a good game.”

This match up between Cerritos and Bakersfield will be the last home game of the season for the Falcons and the next to last game before they go into the playoffs.

“If we play how we are supposed to play and play how we are coached, I think we can do good,” Curry said.

The Falcons will face a running game in Bakersfield College that overwhelmed Allan Hancock College, 29-7, who Cerritos plays next Saturday, and came from behind and defeated Saddleback, 41-24, who Cerritos lost to back on Oct. 2.

The game will take place at Falcons Stadium on Saturday at 7 p.m.