Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 3
TROY — Anthony Walker needs thisseason to be perfect.The Lansingburgh running back, whofinished last season with 194 total points,has certainly proven himself in the past.After all, the multi-year starter has beennamed to dozens of all-star and all-stateteams over the past few seasons.But, as he prepares for his senior sea-son with the Knights, Walker knows thathis football future hinges on what he’sable to do this year.“It’s really like my final statement,” hesaid.“IknowIcameoutandmadeanamefor myself young.”“But I feel like this is the year that I canreally come out and make it better thaneverythingelse.Ihopefullycangivemyself a better chance for college with this.”Walker certainly has goals in mind for thisyear,anditallstartedintheoffseason.The ’Burgh standout, who was named aFirst-Team Class B All-State player lastyear, attended dozens of football campsthroughout the summer, meeting withcoaches and players at all levels and tak-ing in every bit of advice he could toimprove his rushing game.“I take my offseason really seriously,”Walker said. “I just use every little bit Ican get. I take advice from every coach Isee, any players in my position. I take any advice I can.”Of course, Walker knows that it will bedifficult to improve upon his performancefrom last year. As a junior, he averagedjust more than 178 rushing yards a gameand, in nine games last season found theendzone 29 times.With those kind of stats behind him,Walker is well aware that teams are goingtostacktheboxagainsthimthisseasoninan attempt to slow him down.Not that it bothers him all that much.“I actually look for that in most games,”Walker said. “I like to see what they try tobring, new defenses and blitzes and stuff.Theyalwaystrytogohead-huntingforme.But I look at that as motivation. It makesme want to be better.”Part of the problem that opposingdefenses face when they go up againstWalker is just how patient he is at the line.Walker isn’t the kind of running back topush his way past his blockers only tomake it 5 yards down the field. He’s one of the most thoughtful backs in Section II,lettingtheplayunfoldbeforehemakeshismove.“He never tries to do too much,” ’Burghcoach Jeff Pasinella said. “Of course, healways ends up doing too much though.He just waits for the blocking schemes todevelop.” After last season’s disappointing loss toSchuylerville in the first round of section-als, Walker is more determined than ever toseeLansingburghtakeadominantholdof Class B this season.“That season ended not as we hadplanned,” Walker said. “That kind of givesus motivation to come in and exceed thatgame. We want to have our season be justas good, but we want it to end better.”While the expectations for Walker arepractically through the roof this season,he has no problem stepping up as aleader. He’s planning for it. As he looks to improve his chances for a top college offer, Walker is ready to do whatever it takes to get there and he’llsprint all the way to the end zone if hehas to.
By DAVID M. JOHNSON
GREENWICH — In the modern worldof sports-specific athletes, John Barnesis a throwback. The 6-foot-2, 195-poundseniorisnotonlyathree-sportletterman,but a major contributor to the football,basketball and baseball programs atGreenwich.Entering the senior year of a career that has included numerous individualawards at the league, section and statelevel, there is one accomplishmentBarnes still has his sights on — a SectionII title. He was called up to the basketballteam that won sectionals as a freshmanbut didn’t play any minutes in that game.“That’s definitely a goal of mine in allthree sports, to go out with a bang,”Barnes said of winning sectionals. “I’dlike to help the school get sectional andstate titles in one sport if not all three. Iknow that’s easier said than done.”It’s been 16 years since Greenwich wonits last Class D title — a 20-14 win over Cambridge. But with seven returnersfrom a very good 6-2 squad in 2012,Barnes is among those Witches players who thinks this could be the year.“We’ll be tough to stop again this year,”Barnes said. “We’ve got a couple good younger kids filling in on the offensiveline. We have a new quarterback (LukasWhitehouse), and he’s very athletic. He’llbe just fine.”Hisoffensivestatsin2012overaneight-game regular season were staggering.Barnes, a running back, rumbled for 1,481 yards and 23 touchdowns en route to aFirst-Team Class D All-State selection. Infact, his statistics accounted for about 70percent of the Witches’ offensive produc-tion — an impressive stat considering theteam averaged 38 points per game.“He’s a total package,” Greenwichcoach Brandon Linnett said of Barnes.“He runs with power, he’s also a slasher.Every carry can go to the house for atouchdown. He doesn’t give up on any run. He’s probably the best offensiveplayer I’ve coached in seven years.” As good as he was last year, Barneshas spent the time between baseball sea-son and the start of training camp gettingstronger.“I’ve gotten a lot stronger since last year,” he said. “I felt last year all thosecarries and playing defense tired me outin the fourth quarter. I feel like coach hasus doing more conditioning and it’s help-ing out a lot.”Barnes’ ability is not going to surpriseany Class D coaches this season — espe-cially Cambridge Coach Doug Luke. Inlast year’s Greenwich-Cambridge rivalry game, Barnes carried the ball 46 timesfor 377 yards and three touchdowns. Theheroics turned out to be in a losing effort,but that doesn’t mean Luke isn’t aware of the challenge his defense faces when therivalry resumes in Week 1 this season.“He's 200 pounds and he runs faster than anyone we have,” Luke said. “He’s abig, strong kid. He scares us a lot.”Having Barnes in the backfield shouldtake some of the pressure off Whitehouse. The sophomore has twoquality receivers to throw to in Jeremy Messina and Glen Taylor and a solid coreof linemen to protect him. Still, the threatof handing the ball to Barnes is the onethat will make defenses react.“He sets up everything else for us —our play action pass game, our other run-ning backs,” Linnett said. “You mightspend a lot of your week preparing for him and you might miss some of theother stuff we have. We’re not all JohnBarnes, but it starts with him.”
John Barnes determined to get Greenwich a sectional titleAnthony Walker ready to writefinal statement with Knights
ERIC JENK S / The Sar atogian
Greenwich’s John Barnes is determinedto bring the Witches back to the playoffsthis season after failing to capture aberth last year despite a 6-2 record.
J.S. CARRAS/The Record
Lansingburgh’s Anthony Walker rushedfor 1,603 yards last season. As a senior this year, he’s hoping to top that andclinch a championship for the Knights.
Cover photo of Anthony Walker by J.S.Carras. Photo of John Barnes byEric Jenks.