High School Football: Saline, Justin Barnes run over Huron in record-breaking performance
After singing its fight song to a near-empty visitor's side bleachers at at Huron High School's Riverbank Stadium, the Saline football team gathered in a semi-circle around the Hornet’s coaching staff.
Head coach Mike Glennie informed the team of an additional accomplishment to go along with their 45-25 defeat of Southeastern Conference Red Division foe Huron -- Justin Barnes had just broken the school’s single-game rushing record.
The announcement was greeted with a cheer louder than any moment of the team's fight song rendition.
Barnes’ name and his 355 rushing yards will go in the school record book, but he and Glennie were quick to point out it’s a team accomplishment.
“It was a team effort, all the credit goes to the guys up front.” said Barnes, in reference to the offensive linemen.
The 6-foot, 220-pound senior complied a career night with a punishing, straight-forward running style. Almost all of his 25 carries were between the tackles. A single defender failed to bring Barnes down all evening, and it helped that he often encountered the first potential tackler with a five-yard head of steam as Saline’s offensive line mauled a depleted River Rats defense.
After Huron’s first drive of the second half stalled stalled out near midfield, River Rats quarterback Alex Hassan pooch punted out of a spread formation on 4th-and-5, pinning the Hornets inside their own 10-yard-line. Saline held a 24-19 lead and Barnes had 135 first-half yards. He was just getting started.
Joseph Tobianski | AnnArbor.com
Huron (1-6, 1-4) kept the game close in the first half by capitalizing on two first quarter Saline fumbles. The Hornets fumbled on their second play from scrimmage and the Rats responded on the very next play with Parish Thomas scampering 60 yards for a touchdown. Huron’s next two drives stalled out inside the 10-yard-line and the Rats settled for a pair of Grant Strickler field goals.
The first and only punt of the first half came from Huron with 2:08 left in the second quarter, Saline (3-4, 2-3) then drove into Huron territory before finishing the half with a 34-yard Dylan Mulder field goal with 10 seconds remaining.
The second half was all Hornets, as they simply rode Barnes to pay dirt and did not punt or pass the ball once. Huron was undone by a stronger defensive effort from the Hornets and costly turnovers, none bigger than a Parish Thomas interception on a halfback pass a play after he had caught a 50-yard screen pass. The play had fooled the Saline defense, keying on the always dangerous Thomas, but an under thrown pass resulted in a turnover rather than the touchdown it appeared Huron would score. The score was just 31-19 at the time.
When asked if running the ball up the middle was the game plan, Glennie flatly said no.
“We always say we’ll take what the defense gives us. Jet edge is the main play in our offense. We ran that well at the start of the game and once they committed more players to the outside, it opened things up.”
On Barnes’ historic night, “He’s a great kid, a hard worker, and just a tough physical football player. I’m happy for him.”
Huron’s Alex Hassan finished the night 21 of 26 with 300 yards passing, he threw and rushed for a touchdown.