Central Catholic senior tackle Barry a building block to success
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The Central Catholic offense ran like a well-oiled machine in Friday’s 33-6 season-opening win over visiting Marlborough, as sophomore quarterback Michael Milano and running back Santino Brancato found the end zone easily and often.
Milano connected with Michael Barry on a 33-yard scoring pass in the first quarter and later scampered in on a 3-yard keeper. Brancato ripped off a 35-yard touchdown burst in the second quarter.
Ryan Barry was not listed anywhere in the scoring summary, or in the final statistics.
But the Raiders’ senior left tackle was at the point of attack, in the trenches, having little trouble clearing out Marlborough defenders and opening running lanes.
At 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, Barry often looms over his blocking assignments. But for the four-year varsity starter, it was not his massive frame that earned him Merrimack Valley Conference all-star honors as a junior.
Barry constantly hones his technique and, along with Everett senior John Montelus, the pair have developed into arguably the two premier left tackles in Eastern Massachusetts. Other linemen pivotal to their teams’ respective success include Cal Vail (Lowell), Chad Dellaporta (Billerica), Matt Comerford (Reading), Chris Tinkham (Lynn English), and Dan Burrows (Haverhill).
“It’s very important that you come from a good stance and get low,’’ said Barry, who is undecided on where he will attend college. “You get under [the defender’s] pads, stay low, and drive the hips. It’s more than just being a big, strong kid.’’
So what helps Barry achieve such athleticism?
When he’s not on the football field, he’s running up and down the court for the varsity boys’ basketball team or thowing the shot put for the track and field program in the spring.
“The shot put helped with bringing my hips around, and the basketball helps my stamina and athleticism,’’ Barry said.
In his his 16th season as head coach at Central Catholic, Chuck Adamopoulos has seen the game progress significantly, especially on the line.
“In the old days, you could take a big kid and stick him on the line, but the game is different now and it doesn’t work,’’ Adamopoulos said. “The technique is huge.”
Barry “finishes his blocks well,’’ his coach said, “and that separates an average lineman from a great lineman.’’
And a great lineman, or great play from the line, is the building block for the success of any team.
“Breakdowns in the line kill your offense,” said Adamopoulos. “As good as stats are, there’s nothing without a line. And the offensive linemen are the unsung heroes of any team.’’
For Barry, stats are meaningless. Pride is everything.
“You learn to love being a lineman,’’ he said. “There’s pressure because [teams] usually put their best defensive tackles on my side, but I like the pressure.’’
Before every practice at Everett High, Montelus pulls his left sock high up to his knee and fastens his knee brace.
It’s the strain of grueling labor that a lineman goes through every day that leaves the 6-foot-5, 314-pound Montelus wobbly after a week’s worth of work in the trenches.
“My left knee keeps bothering me sometimes. . . . You always have to pump your feet and bend your knees,’’ Montelus said. “So the brace helps.’’
Linemen epitomize the meaning of toughness, often playing through aches and pains, while rarely getting time to catch their breath in between snaps.
On Friday night, Barry played in the majority of Central Catholic’s offensive snaps, despite missing the entire preseason, including three scrimmages, because of a fracture in his left foot suffered at a prospect camp at the University of Maine in July.
“We were happy with how effective he was for missing the preseason,’’ Adamopoulos said. “We ran the ball pretty well and [Barry] was moving pretty good for coming off a foot injury, and his presence was a lift for the rest of the line.’’
While Barry sharpened his technique by playing with upperclassmen as a freshman, Montelus worked with line coach Mike Milo , who has earned a reputation for churning out powerful linemen for the Crimson Tide.
Montelus, who has only played organized football seriously since his sophomore year, was a perfect mold for Milo, and has since become a staple of an Everett front that has paved the way for Super Bowl titles in 2010 and 2011.
“Coach Milo likes it like that, when the kids come up without bad habits,’’ Everett coach John DiBiaso said jokingly. “John’s made himself into a great player, and he wants to be the best.
“The technique plays a lot into it, and when [Montelus] goes to camp, [scouts] comment on how advanced his pass blocking technique is.’’Continued...