Barnes beefs up to play middle linebacker
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Oct. 5, 2004 - Don't expect David Barnes to open up a weight loss clinic any time soon.

The Sulphur Springs middle linebacker doesn't know about losing weight. But, he proved this summer he could put on pounds.

Barnes put on about 45 pounds in the last six months due to a regimen of lifting weights, working out and, of course, eating.

The extra weight has helped the Wildcat senior take on offensive linemen and deliver blows as he has emerged as the leading tackler on the team.

"My plan for the summer was just to get faster and stronger and put on some weight because I only weighed about 160. Now, I weight 205," he said. "I was trying to eat a whole bunch. I was eating four times a day and working out three times. That's pretty much all I did during the summer was workout and eat.

"I was little, so I needed to put on some pounds."

Coaches like his bigger physique, but mostly they like his attitude and mentality. Between Barnes and fellow middle linebacker Keidric Duffey, the team has a pair of 200-pound hitters who seek out the football.

"He just has a knack for finding the football. Your inside linebackers should be around the ball on every play, and he does that. They both do that," said SSHS head coach Brad Turner. "Barnes has a good mentality for playing in there. He's tough, and he gets after it.

"He's made himself a lot more physical. He's bigger and stronger. He's always been a pretty good runner. He had a great summer and put on the weight."

After five games, Barnes has a team-high 53 tackles and is tied for the team lead in sacks (two) and tackles for losses (nine). He had 15 tackles in a back-up role last season, a number he matched in a single game this year.

He does it with a single-minded purpose. Asked what activities he participates in, Barnes says, "I play football."

It's an intenseness the son of Mike Barnes and Debbie Higginson will take into the U.S. Marine Corps after graduation.

"He has a linebacker mentality - hard-nosed and tough, and running to the ball. He's the leading tackler right now, so that tells you something," Turner explained. "Barnes is one who has a knack for finding the football. You want as many of those guys over there who have a nose for making plays.

"Every week, he has double-digit tackles, or close to it, and that's what you look for from that position."

Barnes and Turner both readily say the defensive focus is not on one position. It's a team effort in which every player is expected to do their job, even if it's not making tackles.

"Having a great defense isn't centered around having an All-State free safety or a great middle linebacker - it's having a great unit. We try to sell them on playing together as a unit," Turner said. "If you watch them, they run to the ball.

"They have a 30-percent swarm goal. A swarm is four or more on a tackle, and we've gotten it every week. It's just that mentality of we're going to get to the football. Everybody's got a job to do, and we try to do it. Having a good unit like that bounces over to make your team better, because the team concept is the same."

Defense and special teams have buoyed the team this season, scoring two safeties and on seven different returns: fumble, interception, blocked punt, punt and kick off.

The Cat defense has allowed just 75 points in five games, including one shutout, and has scored 44.

"The key is not thinking, just reacting," Barnes said. "Stopping the run is what they want us to do, and we've done a pretty good job of it most games."

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