Barnes makes 12 stops in big win

Published 6:14 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2010

MONTICELLO – Inside linebacker Justin Barnes produced anexceptional game for the Lawrence County Cougars Friday night. Hewas credited with 12 tackles, including seven solo stops; as theCougars edged South Pike’s Eagles 29-28 in a Region 7-4Ashowdown.

That performance has earned Barnes The DAILY LEADER’s DefensivePlayer of the Week recognition.

Looking across the football field, LCHS head coach Mike Davis saidhe feels confident when he watches Barnes calling defensive playsand making big tackles. “Justin has been a consistent player forus. He’s a leader for us and he makes our calls.”

Davis said Barnes plays with intensity and his enthusiasm iscontagious. “He’s the Energizer Bunny of our defensive crew. He’sjust a good, all-around player. He plays with a lot ofpassion.”

Barnes, a strong, 6-foot, 195-pound senior, has been an integralpart of the Cougars’ defense. He said he enjoys playinglinebacker.

“Playing linebacker is very physical,” said Barnes. “You can put ahat on somebody.”

Working with him at linebacker are Kendrick Hilliard, LakendrickBarnes and LaQuan Hilliard. Lakendrick is his cousin.

Justin gave credit to the LCHS defensive line for warding offblockers and enabling linebackers to make the tackles. Up front ondefense are Calvin Dixon, Curtis Brown, Jordan Grayson and DerrickEvans.

Asked about the defense, Barnes said, “We stick together. We haveimproved a lot every game.”

Barnes wears jersey No. 31 in honor of his friend, Timothy Gholar,who passed away a few years ago.

Barnes is the 17-year-old son of Jennifer Hathorn and IsaacCollins. He has two younger brothers. Jered is an eighth gradelinebacker and Jeremiah Sumrall is in the fourth grade.

The Cougars (4-5, 2-1) won the region title last year but theymight have to settle for second place behind powerhouse North Pike.The region win over South Pike was critical.

“Most of our injured people are coming back,” said Barnes. “We havea good shot at making the playoffs.”

Barnes said he has enjoyed playing for Coach Davis. “He’s like afather to our team. He cares about us.”

He hasn’t decided on a college but he is considering a career inphysical therapy. His favorite college team is Ole Miss.

After the football season, Barnes will be playing basketball forthe Cougars. He runs track in the spring, competing in the200-meter dash and the 4×100 relay.

His favorite NFL player is Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, anotherphysical player who enjoys hitting opponents.