Beyond the gaudy numbers, South Carroll quarterback and 2021 Carroll County Times Offensive Player of the Year Ryan Barnard possessed a mix of grit and determination this fall that inspired the players around him.
The senior led the Cavaliers to an undefeated regular season and an appearance in the 2A/1A state title game as part of a historic season that was all about not giving up.
“No matter what happens, I am going to give my all into what I am doing,” Barnard said.
Never was that philosophy more apparent than in the state semifinals against Harford Tech. Trailing by six points in the final two minutes, Barnard quickly led his team down the field into the red zone.
Then, with the game on the line, the quarterback lofted a fourth-down touchdown pass to Carter Mazalewski. The senior followed that up by calmly kicking the extra point for what ended as a 14-13 victory.
“That play highlighted what our whole team was about this year,” Barnard said. “We never gave up no matter the score and we had a grit about us. That is what took us as far as we went. This was one of the biggest games of our lives and that is what made it so special because no matter what type of game it was, we never gave up.”
The winning throw against Harford Tech was just one example of many that exemplify Barnard’s development into a lethal quarterback inside and outside the pocket. Earlier in the season, he beat Liberty in the final minute with a late touchdown throw on the run. He capped off the regular season against Francis Scott Key with another late touchdown pass to lift the Cavaliers.
Barnard credits his development at the quarterback position to his work at the QB Factory that started during the offseason prior to the COVID outbreak. It has helped improve his footwork and arm talent.
“I began heading up to the QB Factory and working with coach Chris Baucia the whole offseason and began seeing major improvements,” Barnard said. “He taught me that every player has their own unique style of play and he really pushed me from the offseason to today to determine my style of play and how to utilize it to the max.”
That work paid off in a season for the record books for the Cavaliers as Barnard spearheaded an offense that averaged nearly 30 points a game in the regular season. South Carroll became just the second team in program history to reach the state championship game.
“One of my favorite memories will always be coming back into that locker room after we played Harford Tech knowing we were headed to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium,” Barnard said. “It was a feeling that I will never forget and brought me so much joy and realism of what we accomplished this past year.”
Barnard finished the year completing 124 of 205 passes for 1,814 yards and 16 touchdowns, while also rushing 81 times for 553 yards and an additional 10 scores.
South Carroll head coach Mike Kraus pointed to the leadership of Barnard and the rest of the senior class for getting the players on the team to believe they could beat anybody.
“I believe that was a direct result of the overall leadership qualities of our entire senior class and our coaching staff,” Kraus said. “[Our] staff saw it in this group when they were on JV. They had a grit and character about them that has stayed with them and has contributed to our overall team success.
“Ryan was a big factor, the players [and] the coaches all had confidence in his abilities in those pressure situations.”
Barnard is hoping his leadership can allow underclassman like junior Antonio Rodrigues to keep the momentum going after he graduates.
“This season has been a huge stepping stone for the program,” Barnard said. “I made sure to be a great leader to these underclassmen this year in order to keep a respectable program in the future. The guys have bought in to try to put this program back on the map and become successful again.”
Kraus said having players with the high character of Barnard and Defensive Player of the Year Brandon Athey made his job coaching much easier.
“As a coaching staff it was easy,” Kraus said. “All we had to do was remind them each week of their character and abilities they had as a team, not as individuals. [We told them] to always stay humble and hungry at the opportunities as they presented themselves. Stay unified together and come to work hard each week.”
Although his high school career has ended, Barnard is not ready to give up on his playing days just yet.
“Growing up as a kid, I was taught [by my father] to never give up on something and to always finish what I started,” Barnard said. “I do not know where I will be attending, but wherever I head, I will put my all into that program.”
Ryan Barnard, South Carroll, senior, quarterback/kicker
Jarren Rutter, Francis Scott Key, senior, quarterback
Tommy Nelson, Liberty, senior, running back
Trent Onkst, Manchester Valley, senior, running back
AJ Rodriguez, South Carroll, junior, running back
Sam Evans, Liberty, junior, wide receiver
Mason Fisher, Westminster, junior, wide receiver
Ryan Rill, Francis Scott Key, senior, wide receiver
Kevin Connor, Manchester Valley, senior, tight end/punter
Kevin Callejas, Century, senior, offensive line
Sean Patrick, South Carroll, senior, offensive line
Evan Robinson, Westminster, senior, offensive line
Matthew Rollman Jr., Manchester Valley, senior, offensive line
Ben Simmens, South Carroll, junior, offensive line
William Sinnott, Manchester Valley, senior, offensive line
Braxtyn Koch, Winters Mill, senior, punter
Jack Gruenzinger, Westminster, senior, quarterback
Jack Pellicciotti, Liberty, junior, quarterback
Nick Diehl, Francis Scott Key, senior, running back
Erik Harrell, Century, senior, running back
Justin Staubs, Manchester Valley, senior, running back
Jaeden Heiser, Francis Scott Key, senior, wide receiver
Logan Miller, South Carroll, senior, wide receiver
Drew Mooney, Liberty, senior, wide receiver
Lance Crown, South Carroll, senior, offensive line
Joseph Dubsky, Manchester Valley, junior, offensive line
Randy Green, Westminster, junior, offensive line
Jake Hildebrand, South Carroll, senior, offensive line
Nick Koumentis, Westminster, junior, offensive line
Noah Wagner, Winters Mill, senior, offensive line
Keith LaPierre, Francis Scott Key, senior, kicker
South Carroll (6-0 county, 12-1 overall); Westminster (5-1, 8-4); Francis Scott Key (3-3, 7-4); Manchester Valley (3-3, 7-4); Liberty (3-3, 3-7); Century (1-5, 1-8); Winters Mill (0-6, 1-9).
Final Stat Leaders
Passing Leaders: 1. Jack Gruenzinger, Westminster, 2,158 yards; 2. Jack Pelliciotti, Liberty, 1,973 yards; 3. Ryan Barnard, South Carroll, 1,814 yards; 4. Jarren Rutter, Francis Scott Key, 1,695 yards; 5. Jake Boog, Manchester Valley, 1,007 yards.
Rushing Leaders: 1. AJ Rodrigues, South Carroll, 1,182 yards; 2. Trent Onkst, Manchester Valley, 1,128 yards; 3. Justin Staubs, Manchester Valley, 952 yards; 4. Tommy Nelson, Liberty, 869 yards; 5. Nick Diehl, Francis Scott Key, 853 yards.
Receiving Leaders: 1. Mason Fisher, Westminster, 1,205 yards; 2. Sam Evans, Liberty, 803 yards; 3. Jaeden Heiser, Francis Scott Key, 520 yards; 4. Ryan Rill, Francis Scott Key, 517 yards; 5. Logan Miller, South Carroll, 513 yards.