By Matt Popchock
This week’s UPMC Centers for Rehab Services Athlete of the Week is Forrest Barnes, a junior running back for the Seneca Valley football team.
Barnes is one of several underclassmen who have made a significant impact on the turnaround of that program, and in the First Round of the 2011 WPIAL Playoffs, he put one heck of a dent in Penn Hills’ defense.
Barnes ran for 94 yards on 27 carries and caught 11 balls for 112 yards, while racking up all three Raider touchdowns in a 30-13 victory for ninth-seeded Seneca Valley (8-2) over the eighth-seeded Indians (5-5), as seen on ROOT Sports.
The game began rather ominously for the visitors, as Seneca marched down the field and jumped out to a 7-0 lead thanks to an early 47-yard catch-and-run by Barnes. His three-yard scoring run gave the Raiders a 14-0 first-quarter advantage.
With Seneca Valley up 23-7 in the third quarter, Barnes erased any faint hope of a Penn Hills comeback with another three-yard touchdown run to round out the scoring for the Raiders, who advanced to the Class AAAA Quarterfinals for the first time since 2002.
In addition, Barnes helped guide Seneca Valley to its first eight-win football season since that same year.
Meanwhile, here are some of Mr. High School Sports’ other top performers from the First Round:
Luke Hagy, Mount Lebanon: If he were any more versatile, he’d sell popcorn during the game too. Hagy amassed 146 rushing yards and not only ran for a score, but also caught a touchdown pass, and threw a touchdown pass on a trick play to help the Blue Devils edge No. 10 seed Woodland Hills 28-21.
Dom Presto, Thomas Jefferson: For the first time in recent history the Jaguars were thrust into survival mode in a First Round contest against No. 11 seed Greensburg-Salem, and Presto showed there’s plenty of fight left in TJ. He led all Class AAA QB’s with 223 yards on 13-of-26 passing last Friday, throwing two TD passes, and also running for the winning score in a 34-28 overtime decision.
Julian Cox, Ellwood City: The biggest upset on a night where there were so few took place in the Class AA bracket, as the Wolverines picked up their first playoff win since 1987, the same year they bowed to Sto-Rox in the WPIAL Class AA Final. He racked up 123 passing yards on eight of 12 attempts, throwing for two touchdowns, and his goal-line plunge with 26 seconds left gave No. 13 seed Ellwood City a stunning come-from-behind 33-26 victory over No. 4 seed Freeport.
Sean Dugan, Springdale: The Dynamos have put themselves in the unenviable position of trying to take down Clairton, but first the No. 9 seed had to get by No. 8 seed Monessen. Dugan’s 225 rushing yards were the fifth most of all WPIAL running backs during the First Round, and his three touchdowns bolstered Springdale to a 65-30 win, eliminating the Greyhounds for the third year in a row.
Be sure to check out the next edition of “The UPMC Centers for Rehab Services High School Football Show,” brought to you by ROOT Sports and hosted by John Phillips, Saturday morning at 7:00 A.M. as we name our next UPMC Centers for Rehab Services Athlete of the Week!
(Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mpopchock)