BY KEVIN PRISE email@example.com
Medina Journal-Register — MEDINA — Mustang football coach Eric Valley and his staff recently went through every play from the recently-ended football season, in an effort to come up with the team’s top 100 plays for a highlight film.
When the selections were complete, 48 of the plays involved senior Kyle Barna, an all-purpose player who did it all on both sides of the field — whether it was at running back, receiver or linebacker.
Barna was honored from a regional standpoint this past weekend, when he was named second-team All-Western New York as an offensive utility player.
Valley said that Barna is completely deserving of the award, and that the recognition is a testament to his work ethic and desire to get better every time he stepped onto the field.
“He came to play every game, and that’s something that everybody noticed, not just the guys on our side,” Valley said. “His body of work speaks for itself. He’s a consistent player, and he always left it all on the field.”
Barna saw varsity action beginning his freshman year at Medina, and was a three-year starter for the Mustangs on both sides of the ball. Valley felt that Barna grew into his game as he got older, and the result was a dynamic player who was always a threat to make a game-changing play.
Valley said that Barna has garnered attention from a variety of colleges across the state, as he decides whether to play football or lacrosse — or potentially both — at the university level. Whatever Barna decides, Valley is sure that he will continue to excel and work hard both on and off the field.
It’s just what he does.
“Kyle certainly had a tremendous career here,” Valley said.
Barna was also named as co-offensive MVP for Class B North, and was selected as a first-team linebacker in the selections of Upstate Football Weekly.
Barna finished the season with 1,370 all-purpose yards and 13 touchdowns — including 587 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns, along with 32 receptions for 523 yards and five touchdowns. He added 51 tackles and four sacks on defense.
Recognition was also bestowed upon Barker/Roy-Hart all-purpose player Jacob Haight, who excelled as a running back, receiver and punter. Haight’s efforts in the kicking game were honored with a selection as the All-Western New York first team punter.
Veteran Barker/Roy-Hart coach Bill Bruning noted Haight’s efforts in working on his kicking before practice most days, saying it was an area in which he always made strides to improve.
“He’s such a hard worker, and he spends a lot of time with the sport,” Bruning said. “He always went out onto the field early to work on his kicking, grabbing other kids on the unit and working with them to get better.”
Haight was a three-year starter for the Barker/Roy-Hart squad — a player who Bruning noted was always an excellent wide receiver but came into his own as a running back this season, his senior year. Bruning said that Haight became more decisive as a runner as the years went on, hitting the holes with more authority.
Bruning recalls this year’s game against Wilson — a victory — as one in which Haight had a dynamic impact, as well as a postseason game against Newfane, when the Panthers devoted an extreme amount of attention to the all-purpose back.
“When he lined up as a receiver against Newfane, they had three guys covering him,” Bruning said. “It opened everything else up. I’ve never had an athlete with that type of impact.”
Haight is a three-sport athlete, currently competing on the basketball court for the Barker squad under coach Dave Carson, and running track in the spring. Regardless of the direction Haight decides to pursue upon high school graduation, Bruning is confident that he will find a niche somewhere, wherever he goes.
“He’s such a good athlete,” Bruning said. “He’s one of those kids that will have plenty of options.”
Haight had 1,201 all-purpose yards and 16 touchdowns this season — including 821 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns, along with 241 yards receiving and five touchdowns. He also added 52 tackles, three interceptions and a fumble recovery on defense.
Albion senior lineman Steven Stauss also earned recognition on the All-WNY second team, while Medina quarterback Jason Hellwig, Medina senior running back/linebacker Munjie Brown and Albion senior running back/linebacker Ed Wolfe all earned honorable mention honors.
Stauss finished the season with 78 tackles, three sacks and a fumble recovery, while Wolfe had 1,081 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns along with 61 tackles.
Hellwig completed 83 of 153 passes this season for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns, while Brown had 57 tackles and four fumble recoveries on defense, as well as 10 offensive touchdowns.