Daily Southtown

Barber a cut above

Senior running back ready to make moves for Lincoln-Way West

- By Pat Disabato pdisabato@tribpub.com Twitter @disabato

On his first carry of the 2017 season, Lincoln-Way West running back Donte Barber hit the hole at the line of scrimmage like a lightning bolt.

He darted right to avoid a defender and was on his way to a big gain, maybe even a touchdown.

Then he heard a pop from his right knee.

There was no contact — other than Barber’s right foot planting on the artificial turf.

“I really didn’t feel any pain,” Barber said. “I thought I was OK.”

He wasn’t OK. Barber played the rest of the game, though, rushing for 193 yards to lead the Warriors to a 49-20 victory over Proviso West.

Further tests showed Barber had torn his meniscus. He was done for the season.

“It was disappoint­ing,” Barber said. “I was so excited to help the team and have a good year.”

The Warriors did have a good year, finishing 9-3 and advancing to the Class 7A quarterfin­als. And while Barber couldn’t contribute on the field, he provided plenty of support to his teammates from the sideline.

Barber, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior, expects that to change this season, although he’s still going to support his teammates during sideline chats and practices.

But his biggest contributi­ons will come on the field for LincolnWay West — ranked No. 9 in the preseason by the Daily Southtown.

Barber is ready for a breakout year.

“I feel better than I did before the injury,” Barber said. “I want to prove I’m a top-tier running back in the state.”

Northern Michigan believes Barber’s skill set is just that, offering him a scholarshi­p based on video of that one rushing attempt last season as well as snippets from his freshman and sophomore seasons.

Barber was elevated to the varsity at the end of his freshman year and rushed for 320 yards during the playoffs.

When asked to describe Barber’s running style, senior quarterbac­k Greyson Grimm smiled before saying, “Mean and angry.”

Lincoln-Way West coach Dave Ernst heaped further praise on Barber.

“Donte’s the best-skilled kid in the area behind (Lincoln-Way East running back) A.J. Henning, and no one knows about Donte,” Ernst said. “He’s physical. He’s fast. He’s tough. He’s everything you want in a running back. He’s special.”

Barber also is pretty special in the classroom with a 3.9 GPA. And

Countdown to Football

Grimm is excited about the offense’s potential with a healthy Barber in the backfield.

“He looks great,” Grimm said. “He’s picked up right where he left off. He’s so powerful, and he can outrun anyone. He’s so dangerous, and he’s a good blocker. He can also catch the ball out of the backfield.”

West’s backfield also boasts the powerful Caleb Marconi (6-2, 225) and fullback Dylan Holstein (6-0, 235). Linemen Nate Mahoney (6-3, 260), Martin Bender (6-4, 260), Matt Kablewzick (6-2, 220) and Brian White (5-10, 235) will open the holes.

The defense is led by linebacker­s Griffin Ketelaar (6-1, 220) and Marconi.

Grimm believes the sky is the limit for the Warriors.

“I love our offensive line,” he said. “They’re going to keep me safe. Our defense is strong. We’re going to try to make this a very special season.”

 ?? GARY MIDDENDORF/DAILY SOUTHTOWN No. 10: No. 9: No. 8: No. 7: No. 6: No. 5: No. 4: No. 3: No. 2: No. 1: ?? Lincoln-Way West’s Caleb Marconi runs for a touchdown against Batavia last season. Marconi also returns to West’s backfield. The Daily Southtown is counting down the top 10 teams until opening night Aug. 24. Hillcrest Lincoln-Way West ThursdayFr­idaySunday­MondayTues­dayAug. 22Aug. 23Aug. 24
GARY MIDDENDORF/DAILY SOUTHTOWN No. 10: No. 9: No. 8: No. 7: No. 6: No. 5: No. 4: No. 3: No. 2: No. 1: Lincoln-Way West’s Caleb Marconi runs for a touchdown against Batavia last season. Marconi also returns to West’s backfield. The Daily Southtown is counting down the top 10 teams until opening night Aug. 24. Hillcrest Lincoln-Way West ThursdayFr­idaySunday­MondayTues­dayAug. 22Aug. 23Aug. 24

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