It’s not easy to be a high school athlete and hear that, more than likely, you won’t be eligible to make the playoffs for the rest of your high school career. The Gators’ football captain and current junior Lucas Barfield received that news during the offseason, but instead of focusing on what won’t be, the do-it-all guy for Spring Creek is focusing on building a foundation that will stand the test of time.
The football program at Spring Creek has undergone a couple of changes during the offseason. Fans know about its decision to go independent, but they may not know about the change in its offense. The team’s offense converted from a Wing-T to more of a spread based offense — an offensive style that compliments the pieces that Spring Creek has in smoother fashion than the complicated Wing-T.
Being the quarterback, Barfield had to pick up a whole new system of playcalling and adjustments, but it was a change he was comfortable with.
“I felt pretty good about changing offenses,” he said. “Last year, I didn’t think our system fit our team very well. We just didn’t have the right personnel to be trying to run the same offense as other schools that are twice our size. This year our offense has a lot more variety, and it’s adapting to the athletes we have, not the other way around.”
The change was more telling in the Gators’ first win of the season against Lejeune. The week prior to the matchup, Lejeune had bested its opponent 62-0. The score of the Gators’ first game with the team might not be as telling as they won 21-10, but Spring Creek dominated that football game. The Gators coughed up the football about six times in the ballgame hurting their chances of expanding the lead. But even in its sole win last season, which also came against the Lejeune Devil Pups, Spring Creek never controlled the football game like it did in the matchup this season. The offense, led by Barfield and Israel Graham, moved as it wanted and the defense, which Barfield also plays on, caused havoc all night.
As one of three captains, one of only two active, along with Graham, Barfield feels that it is on his shoulders to turn the football program around.
“Israel and I both know that we’re the leaders of this team, and it’s on us to turn our football program around,” he said. “We lead in different ways. Israel leads mostly by example, he always gives 100% every single day in everything that we do. He just never runs out of energy, it’s amazing. I lead mostly with my voice. I’m sort of like a coach on the field telling my team what to do, when to do it and how to do it. I do my best to keep the team mentally prepared.”
“This year’s team just feels different. Since I’ve been here, we have yet to have a team this fearless and this aggressive and Lucas plays a big part in that,” said coach Daniel Robinson of his team in an earlier interview. Barfield’s numbers won’t jump out at the page to anyone. He has three touchdowns through three games this season, but his composure has galvanized this Spring Creek team and made them feel like they can compete, which is something Robinson said was missing in the past.
“This year is kind of a fresh start for us. We have a very young team and some new leadership. Going independent has given everyone a different mindset,” Barfield said. “I think we could end up having a very successful season. Every game on our schedule is winnable and that’s not something I could say last year. We have a very young and inexperienced team so I don’t expect us to win every single game this year, but I do expect us to have a winning record. I really don’t care what everyone else thinks about our football program. Those who doubt that we can build a successful football program at Spring Creek should only make us want to work harder.”
Despite the doubt, Barfield is determined to keep his team on track and focus on the bigger picture and not on what people on the outside say about this team. It is rare to have a young leader that isn’t worried about individual accolades, but that is what Robinson says he has in Barfield. It is bigger than trophies and awards, it’s about sustainability and being able to look back on something that started with a belief in the system for Barfield.
“I guess I had mixed feelings about going independent at first. I knew that we would have a much better chance of being successful, but I didn’t like that we had to leave the conference and sort of run away form all these bigger schools. At the end of the day, I think it was the best decision for our football program, though,” Barfield said. “We have a lot of potential for the future and winning will attract more players and help our program continue to grow in future seasons. I might not still be here when our football program can compete in the 2A conference, but I’ll be one of the players who built that program and that’s what’s important to me,” he added.
Barfield and the rest of the Gators will be returning to the Swamp this week as they host (2-0) Hobbton on Friday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m.