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Coach Profile: John Barnett
Defensive Coordinator


That's the name of the game for longtime Thomson High defensive coordinator John Barnett. Always has been -- always will be.

At the same time, he still remembers the wise words spoken to him by head coach Luther Welsh when the two men were much younger: "To understand defense is to understand offense."

Barnett, who is celebrating his 20th year as defensive coordinator at Thomson, was quick to point out during a recent interview "there's a great deal of truth" to that belief.

This year, unlike seasons past, Thomson will be "real young" defensively, and there are no standouts such as Lonnie Harris or Darius Eubanks. Both of those players have graduated and are playing college football.

"We only have four kids returning on our defense from last year," Barnett said.

Those players are Denzel Burley, a senior linebacker; Ronald Jackson, a junior cornerback; Anthony "Scooter" Moss, a junior defensive end; and John Atkins, a sophomore defensive end.

Of the four, Atkins is the biggest, standing 6-4 and weighing 250 pounds.

The rest of the defensive squad is basically inexperienced.

"We played anywhere from six to eight sophomores on offense and defense every single game last year," Barnett said. "So we're still very young."

He said the Bulldogs will be counting on a number of players to step it up several notches this season.

They include Nic Wood, a junior defensive tackle; Leroy Cummings, a junior defensive tackle; Linwood Few, a senior linebacker; Terrance Bradshaw, a junior defensive back; and Jacoby Crawford, a junior strong safety who started every game last season.

"Right now, I'd say everything is still up in the air concerning some of the starting positions," Barnett said.

The keys to the Bulldogs having another successful season defensively will depend on how well they adapt and improve from game to game, as well as their maturity level and keeping healthy.

"Those are the big keys," Barnett said. "Our kids must be determined each game to learn from their mistakes. Every team that we play this season is going to be better than a year ago. That's why we must learn as quickly as we can how to do certain things and do them well."

Web posted on Thursday, August 20, 2009

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