Friday, June 18, 2010

SPORTS>>Barron developing game, leadership for upcoming year

Leader sportswriter

The adjustment process at North Pulaski is ongoing.

The Falcons had to adjust to a new head coach in former Jacksonville High School defensive coordinator Rick Russell before the 2009 season, and now, in Russell’s second year, they will be adjusting to a new offense.

North Pulaski is moving from the run-based Wing-T to a full-blown passing offense in the Spread.

That puts quarterback Shyheim Barron in the eye of the storm, but the 6-0, 175-pound junior says he is up to the task, and his coach agrees.

“Last year we had a running philosophy,” Russell said. “This season, we’re going to go to the spread offense and throwing. And he can run it and he can throw it. I’m pleased with where he’s at right now.”

Barron earned the starting job last year and quickly established himself as a dual threat.

“I like to pass and run, and we have some good receivers, so I’ll try to get them the ball,” Barron said. “We do a lot of running.

Our passing, if I don’t have it, I’ll run.”

Barron and the Falcons began the switch to a more pass-based style in the spring, and are now part of an informal, four-team, 7-on-7 summer league played on selected Wednesdays at Cabot’s Panther Stadium.

The league, which concludes play in July, gives North Pulaski four weeks to face different defenses. The Falcons are also keeping fit in the weight room as August two-a-days draw near.

“It’s been going good,” Barron said. “We’ve been getting a lot of practice in and getting in shape, getting stronger. Coach has us on the weights every day.

“We’ve got some new linemen in, so we might have a chance to get some wins and get to the playoffs.”

Barron reeled off a number of accurate passes in the Falcons’ opening 7-on-7 game against Hazen at Panther Stadium on Wednesday. But most of those well-placed spirals were dropped, and the productivity of North Pulaski’s offense deteriorated as the night went on.

“Shyheim threw some good balls early,” Russell said. “He got a little frustrated when they didn’t catch them, and then he started forcing some things. We’re going to the spread, and this summer was for him to learn coverages. He’s developing each and every week.”

Barron performed well in his sophomore season, but his youth was a disadvantage when it came to providing leadership on the field. Now that he has spent a year as a starter and has improved confidence, Barron’s leadership should be significantly improved, Russell said.

Wednesday was a test of Barron’s resolve and composure after a number of early passes for potentially good yardage were bobbled.

“His performance tonight was based on the missed balls early,” Russell said. “A lot of them should have been caught. If they had been caught, it would probably have been a totally different attitude after the night was done.”

Although 7-on-7 is regarded as mostly a practice-type situation, Russell said lessons could be learned just as easily as when the high school season starts.

“If that happens on a Friday night, you’ve got to be able to go to the next play,” Russell said. “You’ve got to have a short memory. And that’s what he got out of tonight. There’s going to be games where those receivers make him look like a superstar. Then there’s going to be those games where early, it’s not going to be there. Tonight was a real good thing for him.”

The Falcons will play at Cabot two more times in early July before daily fall practices begin in August. But the process of adjustment and improvement for Barron will be non-stop.

“I’m going to work out and get my arm stronger,” Barron said. “I work out every day, and I play basketball during the summer too.”