Ches Johnson was a standout basketball, football and track athlete in the early 1930s. Track information for the period is very sketchy, but Coach Walter Hemmerling called Johnson the most promising candidate on the 1934 track squad, where he competed in the 200-yard dash, 440-yard dash, football throw, broad jump, high jump and relay team. His football career was divided between end and half back, and his speed and punting ability were praised in articles written about the 1932 and 1933 football teams. Johnson was Captain of the 1933-34 Napa High basketball team, and his play at the guard spot helped the Indians to winning seasons in his junior and senior years. He won the free throw trophy awarded to the regular player with the highest percentage, and he was acclaimed by basketball coach Bob LaRue as the best player to graduate from Napa High School during the past seven years. Johnson went on to the College of Pacific to play basketball and football, but his collegiate career was cut short by work requirements at home.