Last Updated: Wed Nov 03, 2021 - 11:26PM
When it comes to WPIAL football tradition, perhaps no team can match the heritage of Jeannette. The Jayhawks have captured a bevy of titles and have produced countless players who went to compete at the college and pro levels. Marcus Barnes fits both descriptions, as he was a key member of Jeannette’s WPIAL and PIAA championship team in 2017, and now is a starter at the College of William and Mary. Barnes is in the spotlight for the latest edition of the Westmoreland Alum Q&A.
Barnes cracked the Jeannette varsity as a freshman running back in 2015, as the Jayhawks went 11-2 overall, including 7-1 in conference play. They qualified for the WPIAL Class A playoffs, and defeated Chartiers-Houston, Neshannock, and Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic to reach the title game. However, Jeannette was overmatched by Clairton in the championship.
In 2016, Barnes shifted primarily to receiver on offense and contributed 11 receptions for 136 yards and a touchdown. Jeannette posted a mark of 12-2, including 6-1 in conference. In the WPIAL Class 1A postseason, Jeannette defeated Shenango, Springdale, and Rochester, returning to the championship. Once again, though, the Jayhawks were bested by Clairton.
The following season was one for the record books, though. As a junior, Barnes posted 33 receptions for 566 yards and 10 touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks went 6-1 in conference play, and once again qualified for the Class 1A postseason. From there, Jeannette defeated Monessen and Rochester, setting up another showdown against Clairton, this time in the semifinals. On this occasion, Jeannette prevailed, advancing to the WPIAL Championship Game. With district gold on the line, the Jayhawks edged Imani Christian Academy 35-34. From there, Jeannette knocked off Farrell to advance to the PIAA Class 1A Championship. In the state title game, the Jayhawks convincingly prevailed against Homer-Center 42-12, finishing with two titles and a record of 15-1.
In Barnes’ senior campaign in 2018, he hauled in 32 passes for 555 yards and nine scores. Jeannette posted a record of 11-1, including 6-0 in conference play. In the WPIAL postseason, the Jayhawks defeated Monessen, but fell to Rochester in the semifinals.
During his tenure at Jeannette, Barnes garnered All-Conference and All-State honors on the gridiron. He was also a four-year letterwinner in basketball for the Jayhawks.
His future was in football, however, as he joined the College of William and Mary as a safety in 2019. Although he preserved redshirt status, Barnes played in three games, recording two tackles. The Tribe went 5-7 that season, including 3-5 in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).
William and Mary’s 2020 season was postponed in the fall, and instead was shifted to this past spring. In the abbreviated season, Barnes started all three games, recording 14 tackles with a pass defensed. Meanwhile, the Tribe went 1-2.
This season, Barnes started in the season opener, but suffered an injury that sidelined him for approximately a month. He’s since returned to the field, however, and has registered six tackles and an interception in three contests. William and Mary has enjoyed a strong campaign to this point, posting a record of 6-2, including 4-1 in the CAA.
Marcus took time from his schedule to answer questions about how he stayed engaged during his injury, the impact that Jeannette coach Roy Hall had on his career, and his favorite holiday.
Q: What has been the biggest area of improvement from your freshman year until now?
A: Understanding the playbook and how things work; also, getting more involved with campus.
Q: What are some of the most important aspects to succeed at safety?
A: Discipline, eyes, and communication. Knowing your assignment. Look back and see who is behind you - nothing but an end zone and fans.
Q: You missed several games earlier this season due to injury. How did you stay engaged during that time on the sidelines?
A: I wanted to keep my team going. I wanted them to attack every week like opening day. I also am very energetic and football is what I love, so it was not hard to be naturally locked in.
Q: What have been key factors in the team's strong start this fall?
A: Family - the team has faced a lot of adversity and we stick together and play for each other.
Q: What team and individual goals did you set for this season?
A: For the team, our goal is to have the best season William & Mary has had in years. Personally, I would like to just stay healthy and add some strength to our defense.
Q: What led to your decision to attend William & Mary?
A: I wanted to chase a good education and play at a high level of college football. They also showed real love, which is very important.
Q: What is your major, and ideal future profession?
A: I am a kinesiology major. I plan to continue my career in sports medicine after college.
Q: What has been the most enjoyable aspect of college aside from football?
A: I would have to go with living in a city of 19-24-year-olds; always life and something to do to clear your head. I also love the bond I have built with the guys around me.
Q: What was your fondest high school memory at Jeannette?
A: The bus ride to Hershey Park for the state championship game.
Q: Jayhawks’ veteran head coach Roy Hall recently coached in his final game. What impact did he have on you?
A: It sucks to see him hang it up; he was a great coach and mentor to many. As for me, he helped keep me on track and focused. He prepared me to be ready for the bigger stage, always reminding me.
Q: You also excelled in basketball in high school. How did your skills on the hardwood benefit you in football?
A: I’d like to say I’m really a guard but my friends won’t believe me, so I guess you could say it helped with my feet and lateral movement.
Q: If you could face any football player, past or present, who would you choose?
A: I need my get backs from Lamont Wade (of Clairton).
Q: Do you have any superstitions or rituals before, during, or after a game?
A: I like to pray to the most high and take in the opportunity. Other than that, whatever happens, happens - game time.
Q: If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A: I have been feeling CAVA, Mediterranean. Got to go CAVA.
Q: What is your favorite holiday? Why?
A: My favorite holiday? Hard one, might go Thanksgiving because I get to see more family. Also, Mom’s pretzel Jell-O salad and Pop’s turkey. Ready for that.
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