Arthur L. Johnson High School (ALJ) fielded its first football team in September of 1956, the same year that the school opened.
At that time, the high school was called Arthur L. Johnson Regional High School. It was the second of soon to be four high schools that comprised the Union County Regional High School District Number 1, which was established in 1935. The high school was named after Dr. Arthur Lacey Johnson, who was Superintendent of the Union County Public Schools (for 40 Years), and founder of Union County College. When ALJ opened, the students came from three towns: Clark, Garwood, and Winfield Park. Prior to ALJ's opening, the students attended Jonathan Dayton Regional High School in Springfield.
The nickname that was chosen for ALJ was the Crusaders. Navy blue and white were chosen as the school colors. Nolan Field, adjacent to the high school where the Crusaders play their home games, was named after Thomas L. Nolan, a member of the Regional Board of Education. At the time it was common practice to name facilities, fields, etc. after long standing Board of Education members. Thomas L. Nolan was the treasurer and a local man who was extremely active in community affairs as they related to the township of Clark.