Barksdale Leads Stellar Defensive Effort in Nashoba’s Title Win
FOXBORO -- We all know the saying, “Playing out of one’s mind.” It’s a saying that has stood the test of time.
Nashoba Regional senior Troy Barksdale, on the Commonwealth’s grandest gridiron stage, played out of his shoes -- and did so quite literally.
We’ll get to the main story in a minute, because Barksdale’s performance was the thing of legend. He was the unquestioned defensive star in Nashoba’s 31-0 shutout win over Dighton-Rehoboth Regional Friday evening: Barksdale picked off D-R quarterback Harrison Pray late in the first quarter, then followed that up with a big pass break-up to deny the Falcons the end zone on third down.
Fast forward to only a couple of minutes left in the first half, when Barksdale hauled in a 40-yard pass from Sam Bolinsky on third-and-17, getting the Chieftain offense down to the Falcon 20.
Two plays later, Bolinsky connected with Will Danby on a 17-yard scoring strike to double Nashoba’s lead, 14-0.
“Troy made three of the five biggest plays of the first half,” head coach Jamie Tucker said. “He was phenomenal. Big-time guys make big-time plays, and he just comes to play.”
“I knew I needed to make plays,” Barksdale said. “Coach always says, ‘The opportunities will come to you. You just have to do it.’ I seized all the opportunities I could.
″(On the interception), we were in zone coverage, Cover 4, and we had everyone deep. They ran a deep switch; we practiced it once or twice, but I saw it coming. I was in the right position; I almost fell. I thought I was going to take it to the crib.”
But not only that, Barksdale blew the doors off this Division 4 state title game, doing so as the Chieftains pulled a rabbit out of the hat.
Nashoba held a 17-0 lead after Alex Childs -- whose efforts should not be forgotten, as the burly fullback carried 15 times for a huge 74 yards, with two TDs -- booted home a 19-yard field goal midway through the third, before Jack Bonazzoli pounced on a fumble by the Falcons.
Five plays later, with Nashoba facing third-and-18 from the Dighton-Rehoboth 36, Tucker elected to go deep into his playbook -- well, his father’s playbook, that is.
“Sam came into the huddle with the biggest smile on his face that I’ve ever seen,” Barksdale recalled. “He comes in and says, ’48 halfback pass.′ I look at Will, he looks at me, and we say, ’All right, let’s do this. Let’s see what happens.”
Bolinsky would hand off to a charging Barksdale, coming over from the left side. He pulled up and connected with Danby, who had acres of plastic pasture around him.
“I was wide open,” Danby said. “This play was put in Week 6 (or) Week 7. The plan was to fake-block the defender, have him go: I didn’t even have to fake-block him. He just went.
“I turned around, and no one was around me.”
Danby eased into the end zone, and it was all over but the window dressing.
“It’s funny; he would call more trick plays than me,” Tucker said of his father, Ken Tucker, the former Nashoba football coach and Jamie Tucker’s predecessor; the pair shared an emotional hug before speaking with reporters. “That’s more his thing than mine. But there’s only so many things you can run when it’s third-and-18. We also felt they were coming up on some of our stuff.
“We just had to make some plays.”
The kicker in all of it? Barksdale played the entirety of the Super Bowl with a loose shoe.
“A couple of weeks ago, I noticed I had a really big hole in my shoe, but I didn’t really do anything about it,” he said Friday. “It held up for most of the game, but with about 30 seconds left, I was breaking out on defense: I planted my foot to make a play, and my foot came right out.”
“Troy’s making plays with one foot in his shoe,” Tucker bragged. “It’s true. Any time you can play with one and a half shoes, that’s a good thing.
“Troy’s been awesome all year. We have so many guys who make big plays -- pass break-up, interception, halfback pass -- it just shows you the type of kids we have. He’s an awesome kid, he works so hard, and he cares so much. He started for two years, played for us as a sophomore.”
And that’s the way to cap off an interscholastic football career -- with a memorable, half-shoeless day.