Trevor Barnes went out the way he came in, fighting until he could go no longer.
His high school athletic career might have ended on the wrestling mat instead of the gridiron, but the venue was inconsequential.
Barnes may or may not participate in weightlifting this spring, depending on his health. Regardless, he will graduate as the poster boy for the Braden River football program that was built on toughness and resiliency.
On the football field, Barnes never took a play off. The linebacker is the Pirates’ career leader in tackles and a major reason the young program made the playoffs the past two years.
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Captain of the football and wrestling teams, Barnes was a walking piece of inspiration.
He tore his MCL in the PAL Bowl and should’ve skipped the wrestling season to let his knee heal, but he wasn’t built that way.
The senior drew up his own medical plan. He would try to pin all his opponents as quick as possible to preserve his knee.
It almost worked.
Barnes pinned his first seven opponents, including two wrestlers that he took out in less than 45 seconds each in last week’s district tournament.
Unfortunately, his knee finally had enough in his 215-pound district championship match. He was leading 4-2, but the pain was excruciating, and his body just shut down. Now he has had to shut down his wrestling season and will not compete in the region tournament this weekend.
No need to feel bad, he says. The Pirates’ athletic program is better because of him, and he wants to continue playing football next year at Eastern Kentucky University.
For once, Barnes put his own well being ahead of the Braden River athletic program.
He is going to EKU on an ROTC scholarship. He will initially be considered a walk-on for the football team, but you can bet the house he won’t play like one.
Barnes moved up to the varsity at Lakewood Ranch High his freshman year and transferred to Braden River as a sophomore becoming a member of the school’s first varsity football program. In wrestling, he was 39-9 as a sophomore and 16-4 last year in the 189-pound class.
The Pirates football program is built on defense, and Barnes was the foundation. He didn’t necessarily have great speed but made his presence felt, always around the ball, causing havoc, becoming a personal nightmare for opposing quarterbacks.
Barnes was needed in a program that has had its fill of tragedy with the death of former assistant coach Doug Garrity, the resignation of head coach Josh Hunter and the unexpected resignation of Ed Volz, who had the job for one season.
Barnes might have had an appointment to one of the service academies, but wanted to join his brother Ryan and sister Lindsay, who are both at EKU.
Loyalty and family have always been front and center to him.
Braden River athletic director Bob Bowling thinks so much of Barnes, he asked him for his input on the kind of person the school should hire for its new head football coach,
“They need a coach who is there for the kids and will dedicate himself to the kids, someone who has Hunter’s qualities,” Barnes said. “I told Mr. Bowling to find someone who is not there for himself, someone who will dedicate himself to the program.”
Someone like Trevor Barnes.