Larkin takes helm for Golden Eagles

Published 2:18 pm Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Escambia County Middle Preparatory School head coach Barry Larkin has a lot of football acumen, the kind that only comes after coaching football for 25 years.

Escambia County Middle School will start their season at home on Thursday against Spanish Fort .

The team was supposed to have a jamboree against Bay Minette on Aug. 28, but the Baldwin County league’s jamboree games were cancelled due to Hurricane Isaac. ECMPS plays in the Baldwin County league, which includes teams like Bay Minette, Spanish Fort, Daphne, Foley and Central Baldwin.

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“Our kids — they were really enthusiastic about playing,” Larkin said.

Unfortunately, because ECMPS plays in the Baldwin County league without actually being in Baldwin County, they can not win the league championship even if they win all their games. They may, however, be able to play in a consolation game. The school has been in the league for about four years now and likely will be in it for at least the foreseeable future.

Larkin, was an assistant coach for last year’s team under Lee Smith. This summer Smith moved up to become an assistant with Escambia County High and Larkin had to step in to fill the void. Larkin is already well-known for being a long-time PE teacher at ECMPS In fact, this is his twenty-third year as a teacher and coach at Escambia County Middle and he has 25 total years as a football coach.

Larkin is definitely passionate about the game of football. In talking to one prospective member, Larkin mimics a football stance and says, “your first job as a defensive lineman is you’ve got to clog that hole up.” He goes on to explain that as long as the player stays in his lane and fills his gap, the other team shouldn’t be able to run the ball effectively.

Larkin will field an inexperienced team, with some of the team members playing football for the first time. With the younger players, Larkin has been stressing safety first.

“We’re going to teach them how to be safe and at the same time, get the job done,” Larkin said. “We lost a lot of players from last year—most of our starters.”

However, Larkin did note some of the members on his team have previous experience.

“I’ve got a lot of kids who do have experience with football before,” Larkin said.

Despite having a younger team, he is hoping for a satisfactory season. So far, he has about 32 members on the team. In mid-August, he was able to recruit an assistant coach, so the pieces are starting to fall in place to have a successful season.

“I’ve got to get these guys in shape. We’ve got a pretty good group of guys and I’m proud of them,” Larkin said. “If we work hard, we’ll be able to win most of our games if they continue their progress. I want kids to enjoy the game. When they hear the word ‘football,’ they smile.”
Larkin is also a good role model for young men. He has a strict policy of not using four-letter words because he says using such language is unnecessary. Using such language certainly doesn’t make a person sound any smarter, Larkin said.

“I can communicate to anybody in the world what I need without cursing because I don’t want people cursing at me,” Larkin said.
He said he is thankful that most of his players are respectful and listen to what he tries to teach them.

“For the most part, we’ve got pretty malleable kids,” Larkin said.

Escambia County Middle Preparatory School plays Spanish Fort Middle School on tomorrow at home. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.