Written by Cory Twibell Friday, 01 February 2013 00:00
He was called the hardest-hitter among Green Dragon football players in the last decade at Westbury High School.
“I remember one game specifically. We played Elmont in the playoffs and lost by a touchdown, but the collisions – you felt it on the sideline,” said Westbury Athletic Director Doric Capsis.
As the familiar saying goes – some things never change.
Westbury’s Keith Barnes (class of 2006) recently made his final tackle at the NCAA Division 3 Senior Bowl, a game to which Barnes was invited following a storied career for the SUNY Maritime Privateers.
That last tackle was one of seven Barnes recorded in the game – and hundreds the Westbury native earned in his four-year career.
Since Maritime’s program was reinstated in 2006, Barnes, an international transportation and trade major, set several school records ablaze.
This past season alone, Barnes was named the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) Defensive Player of The Week three times. The linebacker led not just the ECFC, but the entire nation, in average tackles per game (8.33) and finished with 124 total tackles on the year – six more than the next closest player, who appeared in 11 games to Barnes’ nine. He was also named the ECFC Defensive Player of the Year … both in his sophomore and junior seasons.
Barnes wreaked havoc on opposing offenses – thanks in part to his off-season work in the weight room, where he twice earned the Iron Privateer Level award for lifting a combined total of 1,625 pounds (junior year) in four max-out attempts.
And though his career is over, Barnes’ list of accomplishments is seemingly endless. The accolades date back to his freshman year, when Barnes’ teammates voted him the squad’s Defensive MVP.
“Barnes was a combination of speed and power. He would get to the point of contact rapidly and deliver a tremendous clean hit on the running backs, always driving them back,” Capsis said. “It was like an explosion.”
Many former Green Dragons also suited up for the Privateers this season, including Chrisrichard JeanBaptiste, Hugh O’Brien and Thomas Davis. The starting salary for Maritime graduates in 2011 was $60,000.
While Barnes’ explosively loud tackles were often mistaken with backfiring cars, the linebacker himself is much more unassuming.
“He was quiet. He wasn’t a guy that talked any ‘BS.’ He did all his talking on the field,” Capsis said.