Seniors could cinch it for Clinch

Ask Clinch County Head Coach Cecil Barber to talk about the one player that stands out this season and he won't do it.

Barber talks about his ten seniors like they are one person and won't even think about talking about one without talking about all ten.

And he's quick to point out how this senior class was able to break up an altercation in the locker room at the Georgia Dome.

"There was a problem with one of the underclassmen," says Barber. "The seniors took care of it. They told them kids, you better end this now or else we're telling coach, and they never told me. They never told on their teammates. I had to hear about it from an assistant coach."

Barber glows when he tells that story. It's not that he doesn't want to know, but hearing that shows how close these ten seniors are.

Three of the ten should go on to play college football: Ryder Godfrey, Todd Dupree, and the big ticket, Paul Tolbert, who has already been offered D-1 scholarships by three schools.

Twp of the seniors have already committed to baseball scholarships: Rance Morgan at Georgia, and Rhett Barber to Georgia Southern.

"I've been at this school 28 years, nine as the head coach and 19 as defensive coordinator," says Barber. "This is the most special group of seniors I've ever had. Most of them play baseball so they work year 'round trying to win a championship.

"These guys are an extension of me on the field, another coach when I'm not there."

Clinch has been there all season. 14-0 are the Panthers and only one game was close. Not only did they beat Hawkinsville in the Dome last week, but they shut them out 36-0.

Now it's Dooly County, a team that has had Clinch's number in the past, but that's exactly what that is, the past.

Barber says he'll be around for at least another two years. Like all coaches who are "over the hill", Barber constantly fields the questions about retirement. He still has two years left before that happens, which means two more seniors classes, but nothing like the one he has now.

"These guys are very coachable," says Barber. "The principal allowed the players to take their finals Wednesday and Thursday as opposed to Thursday and Friday, and you know what they are doing Friday morning? They are meeting at 9 a.m. to watch film."

There are a lot of happy people in this world, but at 14-0 and with a chance at a state title, there may be no one happier right now than Cecil Barber.

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