PLYMOUTH — Plymouth senior quarterback Joe Barron received one of Indiana’s highest honors with a selection to the North team for the North-South All-Star game and the hope of putting the pads on just one more time might disappear with the COVID-19 pandemic leaving a lot of events canceled or in limbo.
Following in the footsteps of his older brother Jack, Joe was scheduled to play in the annual game in Indianapolis and while July seems a long way off, there is no certainty things will change before then.
“The only thing I’ve heard is that the offensive coordinator called me and told me to throw the ball a lot,” said Barron. “I’m going to be upset. I’ve been looking forward to playing just one last game and with players I’ve never met before, just played against.”
It was an honor that most players, Barron included, never thought was in their reach.
“I saw Jack do it and I thought it might be a little bit out of my ability,” said Joe. “It’s an incredible honor. I saw the other guys that made the team and it’s was really awesome to be thought of in the same category — some guys from some really great schools that have been so successful.”
Once on the team, Jack passed on some wisdom to not-so-little anymore brother Joe.
“I was skeptical because I’d be playing with guys from other schools that we didn’t really get along with too well,” he said. “But Jack told me that I’d make friends that I’m going to have for a lifetime so I’m looking forward to it.”
While his numbers claimed him school records and placed him as one of the best in the state, Joe thinks it was not which put him on the voter’s ballots.
“I don’t know about the stats and everything,” he said. “I think I was one of the more confident guys and I wanted to play every game like I thought nobody could stop us and I think I played my best when I played like that.”
Friendships are plentiful for Barron from the game of football — many from his own class that was one of the largest ever to play football at Plymouth.
“I’ve made so many friendships with guys that will last a lifetime because of football,” said Joe. “Playing with 22 of your best friends around you is really great.”
Especially when you are the guy that the other team loves to hate.
“Yeah, I was kind of the main hated guy for them on our side,” said Joe. “I’d talk some trash and hopefully I’d back it up. the thing I loved most about my senior class is that we didn’t really care who we played we just wanted to go out and win.”
It is those people that Barron gives the credit for his success on the field.
“The big thanks goes to the coaches and the kids around me,” he said. “Our offensive line — we could run or pass the ball whenever we wanted just because of our offensive line.”
Having a group of one of the most talented “skills” players ever at Plymouth also didn’t hurt.
“It didn’t really matter who I was throwing too,” he said. “Every one of them was full of talent and they could score whenever they wanted to. We were looking for a big play really on every play.”
And Dad (Plymouth coach John Barron) had a consistent critique of son Joe’s play — to tuck it in and run himself just a little more.
“He would tell me that once a week but there were so many good guys around me I trusted the ball in their hands more than mine,” said Joe. “Ivan (Winkle), Seth (Rundell) Jake (Reichard), (Garrett) Schrameyer and (Joe) Styers around you it’s really easy just to get them the ball and have them go.”
“Styers was probably the least recognized and every time he touched the ball he’d go 10 or 15 yards,” he said. “He could be lethal.”
“The biggest thing was that they didn’t care who got the recognition, they just wanted to score,” said Joe. “When nobody cares who gets the recognition that’s when you have a good team.”
Barron himself matured for his final season, cutting down the negatives in his game to become a Plymouth school record-breaker.
“Realizing that you are a senior really gets into you,” he said, “You realize this is the last time you’re going to play and you just want to be the best that you can be.”
“My goal in high school was to try to beat Jack, and besides rushing, I think I got him,” said Joe, adding that it made for some interesting discussions around the Barron house at times. “Dad doesn’t get involved but whenever he’s (Jack) home, yeah, there’s a lot of trash talking.”
Set to run track this spring, it is unlikely that will happen with the closing of schools for the rest of the school year. Barron planned to show his wheels as a member of the sprint team for track coach Curtis Nordmann.
“I haven’t had to show I was fast,” he said. “When I had Seth (Rundell) and Ivan (Winkle) around me I didn’t have to have speed. I just got them the ball.”
If the North-South game in July is canceled it will be the official end of Joe’s time on the field.
“I’m going to go to Purdue next fall, (Period).I’m going to be living with Jack,” he said. “I thought about trying to play football. It just wouldn’t be the same without playing for the people I grew up next to me and my dad coaching me. I just felt like I wouldn’t love it as much if it wasn’t at Plymouth.”