By Nathan Brown
The Herald Bulletin
FAIRMOUNT, Ind. —
In early August, Madison-Grant football coach Craig Barr could tell that his most recent coaching change was different.
Barr hasn’t been a high school head coach since 2007 when he stepped down at Noblesville. Since then, he’s jumped around between three different schools as an offensive coordinator or assistant coach: Lawrence North (2008-09), Guerin Catholic (2010) and Mt. Vernon (2011-12).
But Barr kept his roots in Noblesville, where he continued to teach high school science. This time, as Noblesville began class Aug. 1, all Barr had to worry about was planning for football practice. He had made Madison-Grant the only school on his mind, and Barr has embraced the culture of the new school and welcoming community.
“They have a passion — not only the players, but the whole community — for football in general,” he said. “I’ve joked two things about the football program: They have a passion for football and a passion for eating, and I’m right on board with both of those.
“The parents are willing to help. They’ll feed the kids and be helpful with traveling and just volunteer their time and efforts. It’s been really positive from that regard because they have a passion for football.”
Before his position with Noblesville, Barr was the head coach at Bishop Chatard since 1990, winning five sectional titles during his tenure to go along with back-to-back state titles in 1997 and 1998.
He also took the Millers to a semistate appearance in 2000, giving the new head coach of the Argylls quite the resume.
But Barr said respect from new players can’t be bought with loads of wins and championship trophies.
Since taking the position in June, he’s been working hard to win over the freshman while proving himself to the seniors.
“With seniors, it’s hard because seniors have bought into the previous head coach, Coach (Beau) Engle, and he did a nice job,” Barr said. “They’ve had some success and done a lot of things. The program wasn’t broke when I got here.
“I came in, and I’ve got a couple state championships on my resume, and that gives you instant credibility. Does it mean I know more than anybody else? I don’t know. It gives you an instant credibility, and then you’re got to earn the kids’ respect.”
Barr inherits a team with a decent amount of experience to aid him in his first year back. He said he expects to be starting five senior offensive linemen and a senior tight end, along with junior running back Cameron Myers, who ran for over 1,000 yards last season.
The Argylls also return last season’s quarterback, Dakota Brooks, but the junior ran into some trouble during workouts this summer. Brooks went down with a broken wrist during a late-July scrimmage against Yorktown. Barr had put Brooks under center for nearly the entire summer to try and develop continuity, but as he was over on the sidelines tending to his starter, one of the backup quarterbacks stepped right up and impressed Barr, he said.
Barr said both his offensive and defensive plans will be quite simple. He brings nothing fancy with him from his days winning Class 3A titles 15 years ago.
“We’re going to be good at what we do,” Barr said. “We’re going to be good at blocking. We’re going to be good at tackling, and we’re going to be physical.
“Schemes don’t win. Execution of fundamentals wins. You have the itch to put more in and do more stuff, but you’ve got to do the basics and fundamentals. You just have to have a good solid foundation to build from.”