By Jeremy McDonald
KEIZER, Ore.– It’s weird to think the combination of starting Quarterback and Defensive End at the Varsity level in 6A.
This season, McNary’s Erik Barker is returning to his Pop Warner roots for his Senior season playing Quarterback and Defensive End as the longtime QB1 of the Celtics took reps at defensive end towards the twilight of the Summer season.
And with the sunrise of the regular season nipping on it’s heels, Barker is excited for what is to coming with the combination for him personally.
“I’m pretty excited to do it because I’m really just getting back to my roots. I’ve played D-Line and Quarterback all my Pop Warner years and I stopped during my High School years. But I’m happy to get back to it and be a big factor on the defense now as well as the offense,” said Barker of the opportunity.
Junior Walling laughed a little bit knowing that the linebackers like him and Dyamni Rios would see Barker in a three-point stance in front of them, but with Barker’s athletic talents there’s no worries at all.
“I know,” laughed Walling. “It’s kind of weird but I’m kind of excited. With a good D-line, it definitely helps the Linebackers out a lot so I’m a little excited for that for sure.”
Barker was giving his arm some rest entering Fall practice next week, giving incoming Junior Jack McCarty an opportunity to shine and getting some valuable reps at Quarterback for the opportunity to take over for Barker next year and in that circumstance he needs to step in this season for the Senior quarterback.
For those Seniors coming in this season, it’s going to be important for them to lead with the group of guys that are stepping up to fill the holes left behind from a Jacob Jackson or Ian Koenig this season.
Walling, who had walked around with a beanie in his hand during a celebration of a touchdown during the camp practice, knows it’ll be huge for his class to do what they do to leave their mark after they’re done.
“It’s huge, I remember even when I was a freshman on Varsity and having those Seniors who led by example and helping me to do everything was huge for me to gain confidence,” said Walling. “So I think that’s huge for our senior leadership to be just like that and get our guys on track.”
And with that target on their backs this year after winning league last season, they’ll need everyone ready to go come Week 1 against North Medford.
“It’s just a mentality that we have to have. We got to come in knowing that we deserve that league title again and that’s the goal every year,” said Barker. “We love the competition, we love that target on our back because it’s going to help us play better.”