A FEEL-GOOD STORY
Offseason health scare can’t slow Mount Carmel lineman Barbosa
Dominic Barbosa brushed off the headaches he was suffering during last season’s playoffs.
The two-way lineman for Mount Carmel believed the pain was a result of a possible concussion. So he played on, never telling the coaching staff.
“I wanted to play, so I didn’t say anything and tried to block out the pain,” Barbosa said. “I don’t know how I did it, but I did.”
It was discovered that the pain had nothing to do with a concussion.
“I was sick during Christmas and, at first, the doctors thought I had meningitis,” the 6-foot, 280pound Barbosa said. “They took an MRI and found out I had a blood clot on my brain. They rushed me to surgery.”
The surgery — a craniotomy to remove a subdural haematoma — was on Dec. 29. When he woke up in the hospital later that day with 64 staples in his head, he casually looked up at the television and saw Jordan Lynch’s face.
“They were announcing on the news that Jordan was the new coach,” Barbosa said. “I thought I was dreaming.”
The Twilight Zone moment continued when he learned that one of his nurses at the hospital was Lynch’s brother-in-law.
“That was the craziest thing,” Barbosa said.
Want to know what’s crazier? Barbosa returned to the field this season and hasn’t missed a practice or game. In fact, he didn’t miss a snap on offense or defense during Mount Carmel’s Class 7A second-round win over Lake Zurich.
“He played 162 snaps,” Lynch said. “His will to win is just incredible. He’s all about being there for his brothers. For him to play this year is remarkable.”
Barbosa started the season on the defensive line. When a need arose in Week 5 on the offensive line, Barbosa jumped at the chance to go two ways. He’ll continue to do so when the Caravan (10-1) meet East St. Louis (9-2) in a 7A quarterfinal at 5 p.m. Saturday at Gately Stadium.
Barbosa’s efforts resulted in him being named the Catholic Green Co-Defensive Player of the Year.
The award carries even more significance considering all he’s gone through.
“I’m blessed to be alive,” he said. “The doctors said if I would have waited another month I might not be here. The success of the team and winning this award means everything to me.”
Quarterback shuffle: Homewood-Flossmoor (10-1) has relied on two quarterbacks to reach the Class 8A quarterfinals, and that pattern likely will be the case again at 1 p.m. Saturday against visiting Marist (10-1).
Senior Cameron Wright and junior Dominick Jones have shared the spotlight at quarterback most of the season, alternating series and, at times, snaps.
Coach Craig Buzea has a good reason for implementing the shuffle.
“Going back to the summer, both of them played pretty well,” Buzea said. “Neither one took control to be the one starter. So we said, ‘Let’s play both of them.’”
Buzea said there’s no specific reason why one quarterback will start a game, quarter or series.
“It’s just a gut feeling,” he said. “If we have a really good return on a kickoff, I might choose to go with one guy over the other. It’s a play-by-play situation.”
Buzea cautioned a passing or running down does not dictate which quarterback leads the nohuddle attack.
“Neither kid knows who is going to be told to go out there,” Buzea said. “I don’t know either until right before the play. It’s not like we have separate packages for them. They both run the ball and pass the ball effectively. The decision is very arbitrary.”
Did you know: Brother Rice graduate Xazavian Valladay is averaging 4.0 yards per carry for Wyoming. The 6-foot, 191-pound redshirt freshman has 181 yards on 45 carries in 10 games.
Mount Carmel’s Dominic Barbosa (68) is starting on both sides of the line 11 months after having blood clot removed from his brain.