Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Dynamic Barnes Awaits Heights ; Heights: Barksdale Jr. Powering T-Birds' Run

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Dynamic Barnes Awaits Heights ; Heights: Barksdale Jr. Powering T-Birds' Run

Article excerpt

PITTSBURG -- Just about any conversation about Pittsburg's football team starts with Purple Dragon star running back Alex Barnes, and with good reason.

Barnes, 6-foot, 210 pounds, has put together three straight seasons of at least 1,200 rushing yards and has compiled mind- boggling numbers of 2,211 rushing yards on 198 attempts and 35 touchdowns this fall.

In last Friday's 42-21 first-round playoff victory over Mill Valley, Barnes, who recently made an oral commitment to Kansas State, rambled for 303 yards and six TDs.

"He's a strong running back that keeps running at speed," Shawnee Heights coach Jason Swift said of Barnes. "He's got great vision and he's not afraid of contact."

But Swift, whose 6-4 T-Birds will square off against the 9-1 Purple Dragons in a 7 p.m. Class 5A quarterfinal Friday, said Pittsburg is far from a one-man team.

"Their quarterback (Spencer Turnbull) is very athletic and can get to the outside and he's got good vision, not just running the ball but he can make throws on the run and that makes him a lot more dynamic," Swift said. "I think they do a great job with formations and just making the defense work and taking them off the purpose of just stopping the run.

"Defensively they run real downhill and they'll come and hit you. They're real aggressive."

Pittsburg coach Tim Nickelson agreed that his squad is far from a one-man team and said the Purple Dragons' offensive line has been a big key to the team's success.

"We run a lot of two tight end sets and from tight end to tight end we've got all seniors and one junior and they're all multiple- year starters," Nickelson said.

"Our offensive line and fullbacks have been doing a tremendous job all year long because everybody's loaded the box on us. They know what we're going to do but due to the varsity experience that our offensive line and fullbacks have it's created a lot of seams for (Barnes) to exploit."

Shawnee Heights also has impressive credentials of its own and is coming off a 45-7 victory over Lansing last Friday night.

The T-Birds have now posted five straight wins and Swift said the first-round playoff win was big for the Heights program. …

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