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June 26, 2014

TH North puts 12 players in WVFCA All-Star football game

TERRE HAUTE — The third week in June has become an unofficial reunion for members of the Wabash Valley Football Coaches Association, who make their way to Indiana State’s Memorial Stadium to swap stories and coach — officially or unofficially — the two all-star teams for the Saturday game.

Terre Haute North has taken the concept one step further this week, however.

The Patriots’ historic season in the fall left them one win shy of Lucas Oil Stadium and the Class 5A championship game, and that campaign earned coach Chris Barrett one of the WVFCA Coach of the Year designations. He and Linton’s Brian Oliver — it’s not a rule that the Miners provide one of the all-star head coaches, it just seems to work out that way — will be head coaches for Saturday’s 10th edition of the WVFCA All-Star Game.

Coach Barrett won’t lack familiar company.

His coaching staff this week, for example, includes two current Patriot coaches, Chris Ellis and Norm Lowery; his brother Greg Barrett, now at North Putnam; WVFCA Hall of Famer Dan Vukovits, who not only has coached with virtually every male member of the Barrett family but who also coached some of them while they were players and his was an assistant coach at Rockville with Jay Barrett; and Chris Barrett’s predecessor at North, Wayne Stahley — also a WVFCA Hall of Famer.

And even though Chris Barrett said earlier this week he was still learning the names of his Black Division team, he doesn’t have to learn all of them.

“We have 12 of our guys [from North],” the coach pointed out. “A lot of them were all-Wabash Valley anyway, and when some vacancies cropped up we were able to get a few other guys to round out our position groups.”

The Patriot dozen — almost certainly a WVFCA record — includes quarterback Chris Barrett II, running backs Ricky Brookins and Kai Stratten and receiver Nate Carson at the skill positions; linebacker Wyatt Stoelting, defensive backs Austin Massey and Ryan Moshak and lineman Ricky Scank on defense; and four members of what many felt was North’s best unit, its offensive line: center Forrest Lowery, tackles Lucas Comer and Gerrit TenBrink and guard Bryce Woodason.

“Obviously, starting with my son, I was about to go into a state of depression about not working with him and his buddies again,” coach Barrett joked. “I’ve known most of them since they were little, and I’m enjoying every day of this.”

“It’s kind of like a last hurrah for us as well,” noted Comer. “We had a nice run [at North], and this is a last chance to play with [my teammates].”

Comer is also getting a chance to practice on a field he’ll get to know well. He’ll be playing at ISU in the fall.

Woodason will be at Indiana State too, but won’t be playing football.

“This is a lot of fun,” he said this week. “I’m really looking forward to one last opportunity to play football again. There’s no better way to end a high school career.”

“It’s a good way to end [high school],” Comer agreed. “This is like our state championship, in a way.”

“It’s a brotherhood,” Woodason emphasized. “We can do it one last time.”

Coach Barrett stressed after a practice early in the week that if someone didn’t know his assignment for a particular play, he should ask for help. Although one might think there would be a Patriot nearby, that’s not necessarily the implication.

“The three Sullivan receivers [Michael Hutchcraft, Jake Kinnaman and Michael Willis] are massive,” coach Barrett said, “and there are a lot of other big linemen, good linebackers … there are a lot of kids out here who could start at the [Class] 5A or 6A level.”

“A lot of the offensive linemen are really good,” Comer agreed, “and there are a lot of defensive linemen that we didn’t get to play against and they are really good too. There’s a lot of talent in the Wabash Valley.”

“It shows the community there are a lot of good football players in their area, no matter how big their school is,” coach Barrett concluded.

Kickoff Saturday at Memorial Stadium is 7:30 p.m.

 

 

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