TERRE HAUTE —
The word that came up in conversation this week with both Chris Barrett and Tim Herrin, as the former college football teammates prepared to meet for the first time as high school head coaches in the Victory Bell game, was “scrutiny.”
That’s because the two coaches’ sons — Chris Barrett II of Terre Haute North and Timmy Herrin of Terre Haute South — will be the opposing quarterbacks at 7 p.m. today when the teams meet on North’s field.
It’s the second season as a starter and the third as a varsity quarterback for the younger Barrett. It’s the second season as a varsity starter for the younger Herrin, but the first at quarterback — and his father is a head coach for the first time too.
“It’s fun having him as coach,” Timmy Herrin said this week, while acknowledging that his father has been a football coach for as long as he can remember. “He helps me a lot, and he helps me at home if I’m struggling with something. It just helps having him around.”
“It started off kind of rough,” said Chris Barrett II, who was actually benched by his father during his sophomore year, “but he’s always looked out for me. I know he just wants me to get better … I enjoy him being my coach and my father as well.”
“It’s enjoyable, but it’s also a difficult situation at times,” Tim Herrin said from the father/coach perspective. “Out here [on the field] I have to keep ‘dad’ out of the equation, keep it as ‘coach.’
Chris Barrett has been able to experience the situation from both sides. He played quarterback for his father, the legendary Jay Barrett, and also watched his younger brother Greg do the same thing.
“I’ve talked [with Chris II] about ‘I was in your shoes,’ ” Chris Barrett said this week, then joked, “but I was luckier than he is. There were seven other [Barrett siblings] my dad had to focus on.
“For a coach’s kid, there are plusses and minuses,” he continued. “Because you’ve been around the game, your football IQ is going to be a little better, so you’re farther ahead of the curve that way. But there’s also a lot more scrutiny, a lot more expectations … of course, that’s why coach’s kids are recruited.”
What about the “he’s only the quarterback because his dad’s the coach” comments?
“You always hear them,” Chris Barrett said. “That just goes with being a coach, let alone it being your own kid.”
“The quarterback is under scrutiny no matter who he is,” Tim Herrin agreed. “There’ll always be people questioning who’s at quarterback.”
“I heard that a little bit at the beginning,” Chris Barrett II admitted. “I just tried to prove I deserved [the position].”
“I don’t let it bother me,” Timmy Herrin added. “You’re going to have that situation no matter where you’re at … I’m sure they here it up [at North] too. You’ve just got to play hard and prove you deserve the job.”
Some of that proof comes in numbers. Barrett II led North to a sweep of the Braves last year, passing for 338 yards in the two games and completing a fourth-down touchdown pass and some long third-down plays in the sectional game, while the younger Herrin overcame considerable adversity in his first varsity start last week to lead the Wabash Valley with a 212-yard passing performance.
“He’s worked hard,” Chris Barrett said of his senior quarterback. “I can back off a little bit now. He wants to be a coach, so I can let him lead the show sometimes … there’s less and less I have to get on him about.”
“Last year [when Timmy Herrin was a defender and only the backup quarterback] was a lot easier,” Tim Herrin admitted. “I wasn’t coaching defense, so I was able to enjoy watching him play.
“But I think he relishes the role [as quarterback and team leader]. He will do whatever it takes and at any position to help the team win, and I think he would accept any role we ask him to do.”
And is there pressure on the dads?
“He never talks about it,” Chris Barrett II said. “Hopefully I play good, and that takes [the pressure] off him.”
“He’s taking it all in stride, making the best of the experience,” Timmy Herrin said. “And it’s not my job to win the game, it’s my job to control the game, control the tempo and do what I can do.”