Barrow leading the march

Published 9:01 pm Tuesday, November 8, 2016

PINETOWN — A 50-0 thrashing of Lejeune marked the end of Northside’s best season in over a decade. Arguably the most important factor in the team’s success this season was its experience. Even though this group of Panthers had minimal success entering this year, they had grown tremendously with one another over the last few seasons and knew how to operate as one unit.

No individual performance encapsulates that better than that of running back James Barrow. As a junior in 2015, Barrow led a 2-9 Northside team with 600 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. This year, he became the first player in two years to reach the 1,000-yard mark, and he doubled his scoring output.

“We leaned on him a whole lot,” coach Keith Boyd said. “We’re a power-based team, and he would get the majority of the carries. … He had a heck of a year, but that’s also hats off to his offensive line.”

Barrow, who is also a vital leader, knows he wouldn’t be nearly as successful without the work done in front of him by the offensive line. For him, it’s all about relationships.

“It’s been a lot of getting tighter friendships on the team,” he said. “We were a young team last year. … I can’t do much without my offensive line. They’re a huge part of everything I do. Every time I get up from the offensive line, whether they miss a block, I get back up and I motivate them.

“Eventually, it’s going to pay off in the long run. It’s paying off this season with me rushing for over 1,000 yards.”

Personally, Barrow said that he’s also done a lot of extra work with his cousin Shaheim Brewington. He said that he and Brewington, the Panthers’ fullback, run together and do drills by themselves.

“We have this mentality that this year is one of our biggest years,” Barrow said of the extra work he and the other seniors have put in. “It’s our last year. With so many seniors, we just had to come together.”

The Panthers have seven wins, and Barrow has a personal milestone under his belt. They’re all still hungry, though. This Northside group has never won a playoff game. There are a lot of firsts that Barrow and company still have in front of them.

“I haven’t experienced a win in the first playoff game since I’ve been at Northside,” Barrow said. “It’s a great team this year, and we’ve got a chance to do some pretty big things.”

Northside is taking it one step at a time from here on out. The team gets a chance to focus more on itself until it knows whom it’ll meet in the first round.

Regardless, Barrow can’t help but think about what it’ll be like taking the field for that first postseason game.

“It’s going to be a lot of emotions because the seniors already know it’s limited,” he said. “A lot of emotions are going to be flying around. Everybody is going to want to be a part of the game. … I’m just ready for this game.”