George Barker has done this before.
He’s been an all-star football coach in the past but he jumped at the chance to lead the South in this year’s North-South All-Star Classic, which is scheduled to be played on Friday, June 15 in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Charleston’s Laidley Field.
Barker, entering his ninth year as the head coach at Chapmanville Regional High School, has led the Tigers to five straight Class AA playoff appearances and six winning seasons in a row.
Barker has been involved in the North-South game in the past but never as the head coach. He’s taking along two of his Chapmanville assistants — Bo Berry and Rob Dial — to serve on his South All-Star staff.
“I’ve been an assistant twice in this game,” Barker said. “I kind of know what to expect. Naturally I’m excited to be the head coach and get an opportunity to coach a team that has a lot of talent. I think I’m more excited for two of my assistants — Coach Dial and Coach Berry because this is the first time to have an opportunity to work with them in another game. I think that it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Barker has once before been an all-star game head coach.
That was back in 2003 when Barker, then the head mentor at Logan High School, led the West Virginia All-Star team in its annual clash with the Kentucky All-Stars in the Hatfield-McCoy Senior Bowl at Matewan.
Barker’s West Virginia team came out on the short end of a 40-36 score to Kentucky in the highest scoring Senior Bowl to date.
Barker said trying to put together a team and implementing an offensive scheme in a week is a hard job to do.
“Trying to get everything done in a week is really hard to do,” Barker said. “I think we scored more points in that game than any that they’ve had. It made it exciting for the fans. We had a good time. We had a real good group of kids. My son was involved in that team. It was just a lot of fun that week.”
Barker said his Hatfield-McCoy players jelled well and hopes the same will happen this week with his South All-Star gridders.
“We came down to Chapmanville that week to practice,” Barker said when asked about the 2003 Senior Bowl experience. “The kids that played at Wyoming East came over for a week and spent the week with the kids from Chapmanville. Those kids jelled and they had a real good time. They molded themselves into a team and I think that’s the most important factor.”
Barker said he has 37 players on his South roster, including Chapmanville’s John Toler and Joe Woody and Logan’s Joe Street and David Toney.
“We have 37 players on the roster,” Barker said. “We had one drop out. He hurt his knee getting ready to play the game, so we need to pick up another kid. Some of these kids, though, I’ve never seen play.”
Like his ‘03 Senior Bowl team, Barker said he hopes to put on a show for the Laidley Field fans.
“We’re going to throw it around a little bit,” Barker said. “We’re going to go sideline to sideline. But hopefully, we can play on both sides of the ball. I’m sure that they (North) are going to be loaded, too.”