Posts Tagged ‘Dominique Barnes’

YSU Football Profiles: Jordan Thompson

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The versatility of a few players can put Youngstown State’s football team on top this season.  Few members of the 2011 squad are as versatile as Jordan Thompson.  During the Spring, the coaching staff had the sophomore being switched from tailback to wide receiver.  Weight was lost, routes were run, and experience was surely gained.  The end result, however, has Thompson at #2 on the depth chart behind Jamaine Cook, as a tailback.  The most surprising part of the interview conducted with Thompson was his sincerity to do whatever it takes, from whatever position, at any given time, to help the Penguins win.  Unselfish.

Paneech: How difficult is it when you are an underclassman to get playing time when there are four capable backs with none being more than a sophomore?

Thompson: There isn’t much of a problem.  We all find a way and we know that [Jamaine] Cook is our leader.  After that, we all do whatever we can to help out.  We all know that we can contribute and we are all very competitive.  When we get a shot, we want to do our best, but we know that Cook is our top guy and we are going to follow him and do the best that we can when we get in.

Paneech: You almost got switched to receiver, things happened, and you end up in the backfield again.  Has there been any talk about you maybe going back to help in the receiving group?

Thompson: Not that I know of, you would have to ask some of the powers that be that question.  I just do what I am told.  It was fun learning something new.  The little bit that I did play receiver in the Spring, I was competitive, but was out there running around like a little kid playing pee-wees just trying to get comfortable with it.  When I did it, I worked in the Summer with Jelani [Berassa], Dominque Barnes, and Kevin Watts, who all worked hard helping me out.

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Paneech: Last season at this time, it was still a new program.  How much more advanced is the 2011 version of this team?

Thompson: We were good last season, but this year, I feel like we are playing a lot more confidently.  We can pick up new things when we have to at a pretty fast pace.  We are also confident that we completely understand the offense and what is going on around us.  It is natural for us and we feel like we are in control of the game.

Paneech: It seems like everyone who plays college football was the best player on their high school team.  What was your high school career like?

Thompson: High School… I had three All-American’s above me on my team, two were All-State picks.  I was just one of the guys and it was almost a college environment.  Our coach treated the program like a college program so that we, as players, could understand what we needed to do to be ready to play at a college level.

Paneech: Before camp started, you had some free time, what sort of activities do you enjoy doing when football is in the offseason?

Thompson: I Tweet a lot (laughs).  I’ll sit on Twitter, I will play video games, we like to play the NCAA games and the basketball stuff.  I am not a big fan of Madden.  We like to just hang out and we bring the younger guys in to get to spend time with them and get to know them.

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Paneech: Here is a scenario.  It is six at night, you are hungry and have very limited choices on campus.  Where do you go and what do you get?

Thompson: If it’s that time of the night and I am on campus, I am usually going to go to Subway.  It is good food, really good healthy food that will fill you up.  If I can get a car, I am usually on 680 headed South to Chipotle as fast as I can get there.  I love Chipotle.  I usually get a burrito, double meat – steak and chicken, a little bit of salsa, a lot of sour cream and a lot of cheese.

Paneech: How is school going?

Thompson: School is going a lot better this year than it did last year.  I am more confident and Coach Wolford and everyone on the staff made me understand what I have to do as a student.  I have an obligation as a student to this university to do my best at everything, and that includes classwork, as well as, football.

Paneech: What is the limit for this team this season?

Thompson: When you find one I will tell you.

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15 Things To Know About Jordan Thompson

  1. He is 6’1″ and weighs 220 pounds.
  2. He is from Cincinnati, Ohio.
  3. His favorite movie is Friday Night Lights.
  4. His favorite color is red.
  5. His biggest phobia is losing.
  6. His worst habit is sucking his thumb.
  7. The worst class he has ever taken at YSU is an environmental science class.
  8. The best class he has had at YSU is his business calculus class.
  9. His favorite thing to drink is cool blue Gatorade.
  10. His favorite candy is Reese’s Cups.
  11. He has some Marvin Gaye on his ipod due to the influence of his mother growing up.
  12. He is motivated by seeing everything as a hurdle in front of him that he needs to clear to get where he wants to.
  13. His favorite cartoon character growing up was Bugs Bunny.
  14. He likes Youngstown because the people make it easy to call this home.
  15. His favorite meal of the day is dinner.

Game Week: Youngstown State at Michigan State

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Camp is over, school is in session, and football is in the air.  Youngstown State will start the 2011 season on the road at East Lansing to face off against the #17 ranked Michigan State Spartans.  The game is set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff and will be televised on the Big-10 Network.  Friday’s contest will mark the first-ever meeting between the two teams.

Michigan State knows what it is like to be on National Television with this game extending that streak to 103 consecutive games dating back to 2002.  Youngstown State, on the other hand got some exposure in recent years with games against Penn State, Pitt, and Ohio State.  The Spartans are 5-4 at home in prime-time TV appearances.

“We will not just be satisfied if we score a touchdown”, exclaimed YSU Coach Eric Wolford.  ”We cleared that hurdle last season and I am very confident in this football team.  This is a new season, last year does not matter anymore.  Today was the first day of classes and usually that means a bad practice takes place.  I was happy to say that this was a very good practice and we are very focused on what we need to do for the Michigan State game.”

“It’s okay to be excited, but we are keeping our focus on what we have to do Friday”, remarked YSU Senior Captain, John Sasson.  ”Our goal is to win this game, our goal is to win every game and we have to do that one week at a time.  It is a very long season and games will be focused on one at a time.”

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For Youngstown State to have any shot at an upset, they have to control the clock, move the sticks and keep the ball away from the Spartans.  Sophomore QB Kurt Hess and RB Jamaine Cook, both recently named co-captains, lead a very experienced and talented Youngstown State backfield.  The Penguins averaged over 400 yards per game on offense in 2010 and have the backfield returning.

Hess (above) doesn’t look toward the Michigan State game feeling any pressure as a newly named captain, the first sophomore in YSU history to be donned with such an honorable title.  ”I am trying to have fun.  I don’t see this as pressure as much as I do responsibility.  The responsibility is every day and you can’t take plays off at practice, being a leader means you are accountable.”

Still in question is the passing game.  With the loss of Dominique Barnes and a slew of new faces in camp, the air game is the biggest question mark for the Penguins going into 2011.  Michigan State is not a team that will be easy to tear apart in third-and-long situations with Senior FS Trenton Robinson, a 2010 All-Conference Pick,  roaming the middle, and a solid pass rush featuring DT Jerel Worthy.

“I think we are going to play a good game and stayed focused.  We want to stay grounded and fight until it is over and we are ready to play this game.  We have a lot of bad taste in our mouth from last season and I know we are hungry”, added Hess.

Offensively, the Spartans feature one of the best quarterbacks in the Big-10, Kirk Cousins.  Cousins is like a right-handed Steve Young who has good mobility and arm strength and makes very precise decisions.  Edwin Baker will receive the majority of the carries for Michigan State and earned post-season Big-10 honors last year.  The Penguins, who will look much better on defense this season will have their hands full with a well-balanced offense.

On a sad note, prayers are with Spartan Coach Mark Dantonio whose father passed away Sunday.  Dantonio, from Zanesville, Ohio, will hold his press conference on Tuesday and leave to attend the services.  He is expected to be back for the opener on Friday.

With a nation of football-starved fanatics, the Penguins have vowed to give it their best shot on Friday.  Michigan State has a lofty goal of winning the Big-10 Championship outright this season.  Let the games begin!

YSU’s Dominique Barnes Is A Detroit Lion

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Dominque Barnes has signed a free agent contract with the Detroit Lions.  The former Youngstown State Wide Receiver grew up in Michigan and will surely flourish in a system needing offense.  Barnes always told me he was going to get to the next level, no matter what, so congratulations Dominique Barnes, you made it!

In his career at Youngstown State, Barnes caught 168 passes for 2,062 yards and 15 touchdowns in 40 games played. His 168 receptions rank second in school history, his 15 touchdowns are fifth and his 2,062 yards are fifth as well.  Barnes set a school record with a reception in 34 consecutive games and became first player in school history to record more than 60 catches in consecutive years.

Ironically, Barnes could someday go against new divisional foe, and college teammate Brandian Ross, who is signed with Green Bay as a cornerback.  ”Brandian and I are very close and I am really happy for him too.  He has been my biggest supporter.”

He also joins his friend Donald Jones in the NFL.  Jones, who signed with the Buffalo Bills last season, was someone that Barnes credited many times as being a great influence.  ”Donald told me to be patient and good things will happen.”

Barnes has some studying to do as he already received a nice thick Lions playbook, but have faith, he is not only quick with his feet, he is also a quick learner.  Move over Barry Sanders, the little guy is loose in Motown!

“It’s a dream come true”, said Barnes via telephone.  ”I have been living with this dream since I first started playing football.”

Getting Ready For 2011 YSU Football With Kurt Hess

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Last year at this time, Kurt Hess was adapting.  The changes he was dealing with were a transition from high school to college, playing in a new system for a new coach, and learning what his teammates could and could not handle.  Hess was named the starting quarterback before the season started and played mature beyond his years.  He has earned the respect of his coaches, teammates, and fans, and will continue to work hard to improve.

Paneech: You have a year under your belt and know the system, are the expectations higher this season?

Hess: I got a lot of good experience last season and have a great working relationship with Coach Wolford and Coach Montgomery.  We work well together and we bounce ideas off of each other.  We kind of know what to expect now and need to refine things.  Coach Montgomery will sit in the film room with me and analyze different aspects and mechanics and question why I did or didn’t do something.  As much as they have helped me, you should see some results this year.

Paneech: During the Spring, there were problems with receivers dropping the ball.  Additionally, last year this team was about 50/50 on a run pass ratio.  Can we expect more running this season?

Hess: I don’t believe we will be one-dimensional.  We have a good enough running game that we probably could be one-dimensional, but our receivers are working really hard to get better.  We come in a couple of times a week and do some seven-on-seven drills and we usually throw every night to get the timing right.  With the new guys, there is a lot of raw talent.  I am developing more confidence with them and I can see a big improvement from the Spring already.  We are building chemistry and trust, and that is so important.  It is what Dominique [Barnes] and I had last season.

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Paneech: What have you been doing in the offseason?

Hess: I try to find friends who have a pool, I really like swimming in the Summer.  I haven’t been to a Scrappers game yet, but I have made it to Cleveland to see the Indians.  I like going to Boardman and hitting the mall.  I am starting to get into my education classes and am really focusing on how to be a better role model and teacher for the kids.

Paneech: Last season you were immediately thrown into the fire at Penn State, and you guys played respectably.  This year it is off to Michigan State, what should we expect?

Hess: We need to have a good showing at Michigan State, and I think we will.  Last year it was a new era coming in at Youngstown State with a new coach.  We were thinking about at least scoring a touchdown and putting a few points on the board.  This year, we want to put more points on the board than they [Michigan State] do.  I think that is what we need to, and are going to do.

Paneech: One of the biggest areas of turnover was offensive line.  Eric Rodemoyers don’t grow on trees.  Do you feel like you might be scrambling a bit more this season?

Hess: We brought in some pretty big guys who have been working really hard and have increased their strength.  We have some veterans in D. J. Main and Andrew Radakovich who have been here for three or four years.  I still feel secure and have an automatic sense of trust for these guys.  Scrambling is part of the game, and although I don’t anticipate doing too much of it, I consider myself somewhat slippery.

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Paneech: With all of the new arrivals, have the veteran members of the team set up events to get the rookies feeling like they are a part of everything?

Hess: It’s not really any one gathering or one function.  We go out to Quaker Steak And Lube on Tuesday nights for the all-you-can-eat wings and we make sure that the new linemen go and get fed.  We play some pool basketball and had a swimming workout last week.  We all live pretty close together, so we are always playing NCAA or watching a movie.  There is a lot of contact and they are getting familiar with all of us.  We recruited a lot of raw talent, and you need that to compete in this conference.  I have not seen any of the new guys get lazy or cut a corner on anything yet.

Paneech: What, if any, bad habits have you formed over the past year that you need to fix?

Hess: One area I need to get better at is being a better practice player.  There are a lot of times when practice is not going how we would like it to go, and someone needs to get a first down or make some plays.  As a quarterback, and a leader, I need to be the person who can step up and make those things happen.  Practice will run much better if I make the effort to execute better.  I need to be the guy in a game that can make a big play on a 3rd and 12, or have to be able to scramble.  Last year there were guys bailing me out.  Barnes did, [Adaris] Bellamy did, Jamaine [Cook] did, it goes on and on.  Coming back as a veteran, I need to make more plays.

Paneech: Does Coach Montgomery, as a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, feel like you have a grasp on the offense?

Hess: Coach Montgomery is comfortable with me that I think he may give me more freedom than I had last season.  We are very comfortable with each other.  I trust his calls, as he trusts mine.  There will be things that change from week-to-week, but we do communicate well and we are both big Cincinnati Reds fans.

Paneech: The Reds are in trouble.

Hess: All we need is a solid month.

Paneech:  Scott Rolen is all banged up and your pitching is weak.  [Edinson] Volquez and [Johnny] Cueto are horrible, I don’t see it.  Not this year.  They will need to reincarnate Eric Davis and Barry Larkin to have a shot with that staff.

Hess: (laughs) No, you are wrong.

Paneech: Any tattoo shops around here that are going to get Wolf in trouble?  What is your take on the Ohio State fallout?

Hess: I think it is a tough situation.  There were things that did not fall into the NCAA guidelines and Coach Tressel may have been put in a bad situation.  In my opinion, he has always been a players coach and always took care of his players like they were his own kids.  It may go on other places, but that kind of stuff, like the tattoos, isn’t really an issue here, it doesn’t exist.  We have a great staff and advisors who communicate well with Coach Wolford.  We sign papers that say we are not going to do this, this, and this.  As far as I am concerned, nobody here has done anything.

YSU Football Profiles: Kevin Watts

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Kevin Watts is under pressure these days.  He can hear his receivers coach, Andre Coleman, in his sleep.  Rather than squirm from the subject, Watts was quick to inform me that he respects Coleman and that any criticism he offers, regardless of volume, infliction, or frequency – he grows from it.  Unique athletes at the college level are those who can admit such a thing.  Watts is only a sophomore going into the 2011 season, but his attitude speaks volumes about how mature he has become in just one year.  This young man has so much potential that the university named the new indoor practice facility after him.  Well, that may be far fetched, but he is developing every day in a positive way.

Paneech: What got you into playing football?

Watts: I started playing at five years old.  I had an uncle who played at Ohio State as well as an uncle who played at Akron.  My dad was the pee wee coach, so it is in my blood.  My first year, my father put me at offensive end, I wanted to fight him every day.  After that, I played quarterback in middle school and switched to slot at Middletown High School here in Ohio.  We scored 68 points in a game, we upset Colerain, we upset Cincinnati Moeller.  It’s a smaller school, but we did pretty good there.

Paneech:  Coach Coleman and Coach Wolford are having a hard time figuring out why the receivers are dropping balls this Spring.  Do you hear these guys in your sleep?

Watts: (laughs)  Coach Coleman is a good coach who is very passionate about what we do.  He sees so much potential with this group and when we don’t do everything we can, he knows we can do more and step it up.  He is always on us, but I feel myself getting better as a result.

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Paneech: How close are you with your fellow Penguins having only known them for a year or so.

Watts: We are definitely a pretty close group.  Dominique Barnes helped me out a lot last year and was in a similar situation by playing when he was a freshman.  He likes his records (laughs), but he has been a great person to look up to.  I would feel fortunate to get my name somewhere up there, or even close to what he did while he played.

Paneech: What are you studying here at YSU?

Watts: I am working toward a Special Education Major.  Everything is going really good right now and I am in the field working with kids at local schools.  That’s a lot of fun right now, I enjoy it.  The toughest class I took here was a Classical Music course.  It was rough to listen to that music like Bach and Beethoven all of the time.

Paneech: I am proud of the football team’s activity level on Twitter.  How did all of that start and what drives you guys to Tweet so much?

Watts: Twitter was something I installed on my phone when I got here last year.  When I got it, I noticed that nearly the whole team was on there Tweeting.  We mess around with each other and pick with each other on there.  For us, it is more fun than playing video games.  I follow Chad Johnson and like what he Tweets.  Dominique Barnes is the most famous person who follows me (laughs).  I would like to meet Donald Jones on there.  He is a guy I definitely want to meet that might be able to give me some pointers.

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Paneech: It’s now 6:00.  How will you spend the rest of your evening?

Watts: I’ll grab a shower when we finish and then grab something to eat.  After that, I will go to the dorms, call my parents and talk with my family for a little bit.  After that, I do my homework and get ready for my classes the next day.  When all that gets done, I get on Twitter for a little bit!

Paneech: Are you happy with your choice to attend Youngstown State University?

Watts: Yes, I am very happy here.  This football staff is a bunch of winners who are up front with everybody on this team.  They tell us exactly what we need to do to get better.  I love this staff.  Coach Wolford, Coach Montgomery, and Coach Coleman all get their points across when you are not doing what you are supposed to and they will work with you to make it right.  This is really a great staff.

Paneech: Who is your best friend on the team.

Watts: I’m close with Jordan Thompson and Josh Garner.  We are from the same area so we ride home together and travel back together.  The Florida guys…  [Adaris] Bellamy is my boy, he’s a funny guy.  Him, Jelani [Berassa], all of those guys from Florida talk and act different.  Boat [Jamarious Boatwright] always comes up with these clever nicknames for himself.

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One Word Answers

What Do You Order at McDonalds: Two McDoubles, Medium Fry, Large Hi-C.

Favorite TV Show: Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Song On Your ipod People Wouldn’t Believe: Incomplete by Sisqo.

Biggest Phobia: Losing My Parents.

Worst Habit: Biting My Nails.

NFL Receiver You Want To Play Like: Percy Harvin   - he does it all.

Favorite Drink: Red Gatorade.

Favorite Snack: Fruit Snacks thanks to my little nephew.  He gives me one when he has a bag, now I love them.

Toppings on A Pizza: Extra Cheese and Sausage.

Pen or Pencil: Pen.

Favorite Movie: Ali.

Total Yards Prediction For The Season: If I am returning punts, I will have to say at least a thousand yards total.

Congratulations Seniors!

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Saturday was the end for some young men and women.  It was the last football game that the seniors would participate in.  It was the last football game to cheer, twirl, march, or dance for.  This was a good group of seniors that played football.  A 3-8 record is not something to pattern a life after, but as Coach Wolford said, “It will be the way that these young men handle real life situations in the face of adversity that will define the people that they have become.”  On that note, this group was undefeated.  Here are a few pictures from that last day to remember what a life-changing event the last game is.

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Andre Elliott  IMG_8384

Congratulations on all of your achievements as athletes, cheerleaders, musicians, and scholars.  Best wishes on a productive and healthy future, and keep Tweeting!

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Penguins Fall One Last Time In Last Minute, 30-24

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Youngstown State University and Indiana State University entered Saturday’s game with no shot at a playoff berth or a conference championship.  This game was simply a way to play out the string and look to next year, a test of pride.  For the Senior Class, this was it, the last game and last chance to shine as a Penguin.  The young Penguins proved truth to the old adage that you cannot play to the level of your competition for 59 minutes every week.  In a game that YSU should have won on paper, playing to the level of their competition again hurt the home team, as the Penguins fell, 30-24.

The Penguins jumped out to the early 7-0 lead two-and-a-half minutes into the contest.  Adaris Bellamy capped off a six-play drive with a one-yard scamper.  The lead was short-lived as Indiana State responded.  Ronnie Fouch found Alex Jones for a 68-yard score, and just like that (two plays), the Sycamores had a chance to tie the game.  The Penguins were whistled for a penalty on the extra point enticing ISU to go for a two-point try.  The attempt was successful as Darrius Gates converted on the run to give the Sycamores an 8-7 lead.

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Indiana State would extend their lead to 15-7 with 6:45 to go in the opening period as Fouch kept the hot hand and found Bryant Kent for a 50-yard hookup.  The Sycamore drive covered 66 yards in 3:25.  The Penguins would respond when Jamaine Cook found the end zone on a 5-yard rush.  The Stephen Blose extra point was good and the Penguins only trailed by one.

With 7:27 left in the half, YSU claimed the lead when Stephen Blose nailed a 19-yard field goal to cap off a 10 play 46 yard drive . Fouch and Bryant again connected, this time on a scoring strike covering 11 yards.  Indiana State showed some poise controlling the ball for 5:34 on a drive that took 11 plays and covered 67 yards.

Youngstown State got the ball back with a 1:45 left in the first half.  Kurt Hess tried hard to maneuver the Penguins into at least field goal range but was picked off by C.J. Cook (below).  The Penguins were able to keep the Sycamores off of the scoreboard and the half came to a close with the Sycamores ahead of the Penguins, 23-17.  Fouch had a great first half for Indiana State completing 11-15 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns.

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On their first possession of the second half, the Sycamores pushed their lead to 30-17.  Jones was the recipient of an 8-yard pass from Fouch capping off a 4 four play, 52 yard drive.

The Penguins showed some resolve as they marched 81 yards in 13 plays to cut the lead to 30-24.  Bellamy jaunted in for his second 1-yard touchdown run of the day and Dominique Barnes had a few touches within the drive to keep things rolling.  Brandian Ross came up big with an interception to give YSU the ball back on their own 47-yard line.  The Penguins would not convert the turnover into any points.

The Penguins defense held tough and the offense got the ball back on their own 12 with 8:56 left in the game.  On the drive, Dominique Barnes threw a pass on a reverse finding Ely Ducatel for a sizable gain.  The Paneech.com player of the year was doing a little bit of everything in this one.  On a fourth-and-four, YSU went for it, but came up empty giving the Sycamores the ball back with 5:20 to go in the game.

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YSU would get one last crack gaining possession at their own 21-yard line with 2:19 left in the game and no timeouts left.  Hess and Barnes hooked up for a couple of key completions covering about thirty yards.  From the Indiana State 31, and facing a fourth down and 14 to go, Hess scrambled for a first down.   With nine seconds left in the game, YSU had the ball down to the Indiana State 11-yard line. On the first shot, Hess looked for Barnes, but it was broken up in the end zone.  On the final play of the game, Hess, threw to the middle again, but overshot Barnes and Indiana State held on for a 30-24 win.

For YSU, Hess finished the game 12-27 for 191 yards and was picked off four times.  Dominique Barnes had 10 catches for 132 yards and one pass for 50 yards.  Bellamy and Cook combined for 39 carries for 155 yards.  For Indiana State, Fouch was 16-23 for 290 yards and four touchdowns.  Gates had 16 carries for 75 yards and a pair of scores for the Sycamores.

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After the game, a dejected Eric Wolford addressed the media.  ”As bad as we played we had an opportunity, that part is exciting.  We have to find a way to make a play when your number is called.  Give respect to Indiana State, they have developed their players and a pretty good quarterback.  Those kids (seniors) are heartbroken.  They will be successful and able to handle adversity, I can guarantee you they learned those lessons this year.  We are in it together.  We have some work to do.  We just don’t match up well and have to get caught up with the rest of the league.”

Dominique Barnes talked about the end of his career.  ”I think the future is bright.  Youngstown will make noise next year in the conference.  I take my hat off to Wolford and his staff, they have things headed in the right direction.  I cannot be happy about the result of this game or this season, there is a lot of emotion going through me right now.”  Barnes and the other seniors deserve praise for smoothly escorting in the Wolford era and having to undergo so many changes.

The Penguins finish the year at 3-8, and 1-7 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

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YSU Football Profiles: Dominique Barnes, Player of The Year

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Favorite Penguin. Not an easy choice with Ross, Blose, Elliott, and Rodemoyer in the category.  This was a great bunch of seniors, but one is a future YSU Hall of Famer, one has his name etched in the record books, one scored a touchdown against a 1-A opponent on a bubble screen.  Perhaps the biggest reason why Dominique Barnes is the Paneech.com Player of The  Year is because he would trade those last three achievements in for a shot at the playoffs and a better ending for his team.  Barnes is humble, still somewhat shy, and is a huge-hearted person.  Youngstown State will lose a great wide receiver, but more importantly, a great leader, the kind who led by example both on and off of the field.

Paneech: What is it going to feel like when this all ends?

Barnes: It still hasn’t hit me.  I have played in every game here since I got here in 2007.  It’s probably going to hit me after the game Saturday, it’s going to be emotional.  I just hope we can go out with a win.  When I got here as a freshman, I was immature and young, not really sure what I was doing.

Paneech: Who was influential to you here and helped you?

Barnes: The old coaching staff taught me how to grow up, how to mature.  Playing with Donald Jones for two years taught me a lot, and I still talk to him.

Paneech: What’s next?  What will you do after football?  You have looked forward to next year since fourth grade knowing for sure there would be a next year, so where can you go from here?

Barnes: Who knows.  Hopefully I can get a shot at the next level.  I’m here and my mom wants me to graduate, and I really want to graduate from here.  I only have a few classes left, not too much longer.  I’m pretty sure that me, Brandian [Ross], Andre Elliott, Ely [Ducatel], Deonte Snow, a lot of us came in together and formed solid friendships.  It’s going to be tough not playing with those guys anymore.  I’m sure we are going to keep in contact in the future.  I’m still gonna come and see games, I still have friends who will be back next season.  I think next year, we are going to be really good, I’ll be excited.

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Paneech: This team was upset about being picked seventh in the preseason polls.  The record does not indicate what kind of year YSU had and it has to leave a sour taste to come so close so many times.

Barnes: It hurts, any loss leaves a sour taste in your mouth.  Our record could be very different based on four or five plays.  We could be 8-2 and getting ready for a playoff game.  It really hurts with all of the time that the seniors put in here and this being the end.  We came into the season with a new coaching staff and it is what it is, but it will always hurt.

Paneech: What was it like adjusting to a new coach and new staff?

Barnes: I won’t lie, it was hard.  They came here in the Spring and we had our differences with the coaching staff.  I was so used to Coach Heacock and his staff because that is who brought me here and that is who I grew up with.  I think I adjusted well and had a pretty good year.

Paneech: What is your proudest achievement here?

Barnes: Well, Youngstown State is a known school across the country.  The fact that I played in every game and when I leave here, people will remember my name, they will remember who Dominique Barnes was.  I was fortunate to break a consecutive games reception record and my name is in the top five on a few other lists too.  Don’t get me wrong, all of the records and history-making stuff is good, but I would trade it all for winning.

Paneech: This is an active group on Twitter.  Are you going to keep Tweeting?

Barnes: When you are winning and everybody loves you, it’s easy to tweet, tweet, tweet.  I’ll make sure I go on Twitter when this story goes up so I can re-tweet it to my followers.

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Paneech: I thought Coach Wolford showed a lot of class when he said he would make sure that this graduating class would get a ring when the Penguins win a championship.

Barnes: It’s a great honor.  I wish we could have earned it ourselves.  Once you play at Youngstown State, you are always a Penguin, and thats a great honor.  We are all going to thank him for that and I think within a few years that it is going to happen.

Paneech: Reflect on scoring a touchdown against Penn State, what was going through your mind as you were running down the sideline?

Barnes:  Don’t get caught, don’t get caught! I seen Coach Wolford on my left as I ran by and I kept thinking about not getting caught.  I looked back a few times and thought that if I did get caught how everyone back home would harass me about it, but I made it.

Yes, you did make it. Congratulations on a great career and best wishes for a productive and healthy future Dominique!

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One Word Answers

Favorite Cartoon Character: Superman.

Favorite Meal: McChicken, Fries, and a Sweet Tea at McDonald’s.

Worst Class You Took: Accounting.

Best Class You Took: Public Relations, taking it now.

Favorite Halloween Costume As A Kid: Football Player.

Favorite NFL Player of All-Time: Donald Jones.

Other Colleges You Watch: Michigan and Michigan State.

A Coach You Would Love To Play For: (laughs) Whoever is throwing the ball 45 times a game, like Boise State.

Cell Phone Choice: iphone and A T & T.

Favorite ESPN Anchor: Chris Berman.

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More Heartache, 41-39 Loss Stings Penguins

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If you analyzed the turnover that first-year coach Eric Wolford had to deal with in his inaugural season, you probably would scratch your head trying to figure out how Youngstown State was even in so many close games.  Saturday, the Penguins dropped another heartbreaker, 41-39, to Illinois State.  The loss dropped the Penguins to 3-7 overall, and 1-6 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

The NCAA standard for scholarships to award for a football program sits at 63.  Youngstown State is only using 53 due in part to some of the fallout of a new program.  People quit when they do not buy in to something new.  Wolford is a hard-nosed coach who wants his team to be on the same page.  Some of the returning scholarship players from last season’s Jon Heacock era did not buy in to what Wolford was selling and left seeking greener pastures.  The result of this process is a group of talented seniors who are surrounded by youth and inexperience.

The best example would be the defensive secondary.  The loss of Andre Elliott has crippled the Penguins defense, period.  One guy does not make a team, but his senior counterpart, Brandian Ross, just can’t do everything else while the new guys learn as fast as they can.  Coach Ron Stoops recently discussed the blowing of late leads and how inexperience can contribute to such patterns.  We discussed Donald D’Alesio, the talented Cardinal Mooney recruit who earned playing time.  “Donald is good and has the talent, but he hasn’t even had a year to adapt to the speed difference at this level, has not had a full year of weight training which will help him down the road.”  D’Alesio, Will Shaw, and Randy Louis tried to do as much as they could to keep opposing teams out of the end zones late in games.  Since the loss of Elliott, the Penguins are winless.

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My praise goes to Defensive Coordinator Rick Kravitz, as well as Stoops, for working with what they have to come so close.  In Saturday’s loss, this defense actually kept the Penguins in the game allowing the offense to score a couple of times before yielding the big play at the end of the game again.  In this situation, Kravitz has tried many different things.  He has blitzed and gotten burned, he has sat in a prevent, like he did yesterday setting up a pair of defenders 25 yards off of the ball, he has disguised blitz and dropped back into coverage, he has disguised coverage only and blitzed…  bottom line is Kravitz is relying on mostly inexperienced players to make big plays at a new level, and it hasn’t worked yet.  He has no alternative, and I am sure it drives him crazy, as much as it baffles Wolford.

“We got closer, there was only point seven seconds left this time.  Usually we let it get away with 53 seconds or so”, commented Wolford after the game.

The critics are running their mouths about how the coaches are losing games.  Coaches do not lose games, despite Wolford always taking the heat with every loss to keep the negativity off of his players.  You can put guys in position to make plays all day long.  If no one makes a play or steps up in these crucial situations, it can’t be pinned on the coaches.  The players are giving their all, some have just never been in these situations at a higher level.  It is unfortunate, especially for the seniors.  In yet another classy gesture, Wolford has exclaimed then when this team wins a championship (and they will within the next three years), he will make sure that this year’s senior class receives rings for their contributions into the new program.

This coming Saturday marks the end for Dominique Barnes, Brandian Ross, Stephen Blose, Eric Rodemoyer, Andre Elliott, Nick Gooden, Bob Gratz, Erik Johnson, Kyle Banna, Jaimie Frasure, Rob Fernbeck, Luke Matelan, Torrance Nicholson, Brad Miller, Bobby Coates, Kyle Brown, Chris Gammon, and Tyler Figueroa.  This senior class did all they could to win, the situation with the turnover in roster hampered their chances. 

Plan on showing up to honor these seniors Saturday as they take the field one last time as Youngstown State Penguins, they are a great bunch of young men who stuck things out when they doubted where the program was headed and came out better people for it.

Kickoff against Indiana State is at 1 p.m. and the seniors will be honored. 

Penguins Drop Another Nailbiter, 34-30, To Northern Iowa

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The point was made earlier on this very website that YSU had lost their last nine games against Northern Iowa.  The argumentative point was also made that Coach Eric Wolford had never lost to the Panthers.  Something had to give and a streak would be broken. Unfortunately for YSU, Wolford did end up losing to Northern Iowa, 34-30, on Homecoming Saturday.

Youngstown State got on the board to take the lead with 11:18 to go in the opening period when Kurt Hess found seldom used Andre Barboza for a 33-yard touchdown.  The drive marked what had now become a Penguin stereotype of jumping out to early leads and yielding late touchdowns.

Northern Iowa scored on the last play of the first quarter.  Billy Hallgren kicked a 20-yard field goal.  The Panthers appeared to have scored a touchdown, but it was nullified by a penalty.  Hallgren’s kick made the score 7-3.

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With 14:14 left in the first half, Dominique Barnes did his thing, making yet another big play for Youngstown State.  Hess hit Barnes with a nice pass and Barnes ran about 40 yards down the YSU sideline for a 71-yard TD to increase the Penguins lead to 14-3.

Schuylar Oordt shrunk the YSU lead to 14-10 when he caught a 39-yard touchdown pass for the Panthers.  Tirrell Rennie, known more for his running than passing at QB, threw a nice ball to Oordt who ran a post and didn’t have a Penguin very close to him.

The Penguins threatened again as time was running out in the first half.  Will Shaw picked off a Rennie pass two yards deep in his own end zone and took off the other way.  Shaw made it all the way to the Northern Iowa ten.  After a couple of plays, the Penguins lined up for a third down FG attempt.  Marc Kanetsky, the holder for Stephen Blose, picked the ball up and barely missed a tight end on the fake. With one second left in the half, Blose connected from 27 to give the Penguins a 17-10 lead.

The second half was a true battle of field position and long drives.  Northern Iowa tied the game with 5:32 left in the third quarter. Rennie showed why he is such a threat as a runner for most of the drive.  The score came on Rennie’s 29-yard run to tie the game at 17-17.

The Panthers nabbed the lead with 14:20 left in the game when Hallgren booted a 32-yard field goal.  Northern Iowa capped off a nine play, 53 yard drive with the field goal to hold their first lead of the afternoon.

Youngstown State would respond when they pieced together a nice drive.  With 8:39 left in the game, Adaris Bellamy scored a touchdown on a two-yard run.  The drive that gave the Penguins a 23-20 lead took 13 plays and covered 81 yards.  Stephen Blose missed the extra point to the right to keep the Panthers just a field goal behind.

The Panthers took the lead back when Jarred Herring scored on an 11-yard run.  The touchdown capped off a seven play, 58 yard drive and made the score 27-23 in favor of visiting Northern Iowa.

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With 2:27 left in the game, Jamaine Cook broke off a 39-yard run for a touchdown.  With the run, Cook became the third person to gain 100 plus yards against a tough Panther defense.  The run also gave Cook 1,000 yards for his career so far as a Penguin.

Carlos Anderson took the kickoff 58 yards to the Penguin 19 yard line.  On the very next play, Rennie scored on a 19-yard run with 2:08 left to play and the trend of Youngstown State blowing late leads looked to be in the process of happening yet again.  The quick turn of events made the score 34-30 in favor of the Panthers.

Youngstown State (3-6, 1-5) had a chance, but they ran out of downs and the end result was a 34-30 win for Northern Iowa in another heartbreaking loss.  Kurt Hess, after the game, talked about the mindset of what happens to the Penguins through a game.  ”We were confident in our defense stopping them.  We also thought that if they scored that we could answer.  We will live with it for 24 hours, come Monday we need to prepare to play another game and put this behind us.”

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Coach Wolford talked about the loss and maybe playing to the level of the competition being a good and a bad thing.  ”We have guys who continue to massage this thing.  We have to contain the football, it’s a concept of knowing where the help is.  Make sure the ball doesn’t get outside you.  I can handle getting beat, but cant handle giving games away.  I am confident that we are very close.  I’m not going to make excuses for where we are at, but I will tell you that we are close.”

Hess finished the game 14-22 for 218 yards.  Barnes caught 4 balls for 89 yards, and Cook had 26 rushes for 127 yards and a touchdown. Cook also caught three passes for 26 yards.

Northern Iowa (5-3, 4-1) was led by Rennie who was 8-16 for 152 yards and 28 carries for 194 yards on the ground.  He had two rushing touchdowns and a passing touchdown for the Panthers.