• John Macon Gillespie

Barnes Preparing For Another Big Season

Poplarville has a young quarterback that is ready for a big challenge.

Rising-junior Antonio Barnes helped lead his Hornets to a 4A South title last season before falling to the Lafayette Commodores in the state championship game in Starkville. Barnes knows what will be required to get his Hornets back in the title game in 2017.

“It's definitely going to take a lot of work on and off the field,” Barnes told SES Mississippi. “We're going to have to be able to come together as a team and really focus on things that we need to improve on.”

For Barnes, improvement of his personal skill set began Saturday at the Fortius Project at Jones County Junior College.

“It was my first time going to [Fortius] and I felt like I did a pretty good job,” Barnes said. “It was a great experience for me.”

Barnes was the signal-caller for an offense that focused heavily on the run and produced two players that eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in rushing. Despite his team's run focus, Barnes passed for 877 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Despite his relative success in the passing game, Barnes still sees room for improvement which will be necessary in 2017. Poplarville is losing their leading rusher, Jesse Pernell, to graduation. Although the Hornets have a plethora of talented backs at their disposal, Pernell's presence will surely leave a void; a void that, according to Barnes, will require a talented quarterback that is an active leader.

“[I want to improve my] throwing mechanics and become a better team leader, whether it's in the weight room or during games or practice situations,” Barnes said.

Poplarville is poised to be successful this season as they return another talented running back in Austin Bolton and a young quarterback with big-game experience in Antonio Barnes. Although 4A will be talented once again, the reigning-state-champion Lafayette Commodores have been reclassified into 5A, making the Hornets a definite front-runner. The Hornets' state championship hopes, however, begin with their quarterback, and Barnes believe that he is poised for the task.

#JohnMaconGillespie #Poplarville

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