PITTSBURG — A pair of Purple Dragons in Chase Johnson and Daniel Eichenberger officially signed letters of intent to play football at the collegiate level on Wednesday inside Pittsburg High School.

What started as a dream for both student athletes became a reality when Johnson signed with Bethel College and Eichenberger committed to MidAmerica Nazarene.

“I’m just extremely proud of them,” PHS head football coach Tom Nickelson said. “They both have tremendous work ethic and their dedication to the sport is unmatched. They put in the time and paid their dues. They played the game the way it’s supposed to be played and did all of the little things right both on the field and on off. They’re just good kids who are going to be successful in whatever they choose to do.”

Johnson said putting pen to paper was a milestone in his life and is something he’s been working towards for a long time.

“It’s an awesome feeling,” Johnson said. “All glory goes to God. He’s blessed me and my family in many ways and this is just another one of those blessings. I’m just want to say thanks to my teammates, coaches and everybody who has supported me. Besides winning a state championship, my goal has been to play at the next level, and to say that I was able to get to this point is pretty special.”

Johnson has been a defensive anchor for the Purple Dragons and looks to take his intensity and work ethic with him to North Newton.

“In addition to being one of our team captains, he was our defensive leader,” Nickelson said. “He was our emotional leader and our spark plug. Both of these guys have played injured and they only have one speed. Chase was our tone setter for us and gave pregame speeches in the locker room. He was one of the leaders on the team the rest of the kids fed on. His intensity was infectious.

For Eichenberger, his length and athleticism landed him a spot as a tight end on the Pioneer’s roster.

“Today’s a huge day for me,” Eichenberger said. “It’s a new beginning for me and a turning point in my life.”

Eichenberger’s versatility gave him the opportunity to play many positions with the Purple Dragons on the offensive line.

“Daniel has played every offensive line position for us on the offensive line except for center,” Nickelson said. “He’s a very intelligent kid and uses good technique, but they like him as a tight end at the next level. They’re going to get a good kid who they don’t have to worry about. He does it all right.”

Regardless of where life takes him, Eichenberger said he’ll never forget wearing the purple and white on Friday nights.

“I love Pittsburg,” Eichenberger said. “I’ve made a lot of friends and have had a great time playing sports. I just love everything about my hometown and I’ll always be a Dragon.”

— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at jbuckamneer@morningsun.net and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.