The Tigers had lost everything from off the 2016, 10-2 football team. They had lost so much Coach Marc Clark took the first train to Paducah to land at McCracken County High School’s head coaching vacancy. The Tigers lost 4 out of 5 starting offensive linemen, 2 college athletes at receiver, the entire defensive front, 2 of it’s three linebackers, a Division I college player at safety, and both starting corners. It looked like Dodge City and the tumbleweeds were rolling through town. What they did have coming back, quit or suffered season ending surgery. A two time District Player of the Year at QB, a 20 TD scorer at the slot, and the only returning OL starter, all quit. The preseason favorite, according to the district coaches, to be the 2017 player of the year, went down in the last scrimmage to season ending knee surgery (Jatorion Dillard).
So the Tigers knew they would take their lumps. However, with a first time starting QB who was only a sophomore, an entirely new OL none of whom had one-snap of varsity experience and one of whom was an eighth grader the year prior, an entirely new defensive line, new linebackers, and a corner who had also been an eighth grader in 2016, the Tigers found themselves in the State Quarters (Regional Finals) for the first time in 11 years. The Tigers knew last year, after taking a lead into the 3rd quarter against the eventual Class 4A State Champion, they would benefit with all the game experience the young Tigers, coming back, were getting in 2017. The Tigers figured they would be tough in 2018. By the end of 2017, they were right difficult, ask any team which played them during their 5 game, end of the year, winning streak. What the Tigers didn’t know is they would benefit so richly from two star, all WKC players moving into the district to make an already loaded roster, even more loaded.
We told you about star receiver Ellis Dunn moving cross-town to wear the Orange and Black. Well good fortune has, once again, smiled on the Tigers as, this time, the good fortune has come over from Cadiz, Kentucky. There are plenty of good players who change scenery and thrive in a new environment. Teams don’t always benefit from players transferring to new teams as darn few transfers were bone fide superstars on the team they left. When that happens, that is bona fortuna for certain. First, and everyone knows who regularly reads KPGFootball, we are fans of the weight room. Maybe we are just dim-witted but we fail to see how a game which requires strength, explosion, speed, and power isn’t better played by the strong, explosive, fast, and powerful. Barker was the State runner-up in his weight class in the Kentucky State Powerlifting Championship and was the outstanding lifter at the Quad State Powerlifting Meet which was held at McCracken County High School this past Spring. Barker was also one of the quickest, fastest, and most impressive athletes at the WKC Coach’s combine earlier in the summer. Why shouldn’t he have been, he is a returning member of the WKC’s All-Conference Football team.
Last season for Trigg County, Barker carried the ball 93 times for 378 yards rushing with five of the carries being for TDs. He also had 13 receptions from out of the backfield for another 122 yards and a score, scoring 36 offensive points along the way for the Wildcats. Defensively, Barker tallied 65 total tackles, 18 of which were solo tackles. Now his Hudl account indicates he is a RB/Corner but most often, last season, Coach Coby Lewis’ defense at Trigg County deployed him as an OLB. For the Tigers this summer, they have added not one, but two, All WKC performers in both Ellis Dunn and, now, Tayshaun Barker.
Where he fits in…Tayshaun Barker should fit into to the Hoptown lineup similar to how Steven Shorty Cager was deployed by Coach Clark in 2016. Barker is a versatile athlete who is strong, powerful, explosive, and has plenty of over the top separation speed working down the field from the slot, or recovery speed, should he be deployed in the defensive backfield. Barker is a hard runner who works well both between the tackles (where he can be hard to find) with burst to the outside to gain the edge. Barker runs precise routes and catches the football both naturally and well and, when given the football at the right time in space, can really make things happen. This, like the Ellis Dunn pick-up before it, is quite a boon to the Tigers and gives them an every-down backfield option in addition to JaTorion Dillard, which will be absolutely critical when Dillard graduates at the end of next school year.
Big pick up here for the Tigers as the addition of Barker, to what is already on hand, makes them a much more versatile offense and improves the defense with a performer who immediately upgrades the HHS defensive back-four or even 2nd level. This is Fletcher Long, reporting for KPGFootball reminding you to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE!
© The information contained on this site is the copyrighted intellectual property of KPGFootball. Any unauthorized dissemination of this material without the author’s express written consent is strictly prohibited!
If you enjoyed this article and wish to gain full-access to the site, then subscribe monthly to Kentucky Prep Gridiron by following the prompts!