Young talent excites Cougars

Published 4:34 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Winston Barron is already leaving his mark on the EA Cougars' football program, playing running back, wide receiver and linbacker.

Winston Barron may only be a sophomore, but he came into Escambia Academy’s season expecting to play immediately.

“I was expecting to be a starter,” Barron said. “I was expecting to go out there and be a leader on my team.”

Barron has practiced heavily at running back, but the coaches quickly discovered Barron is a skilled receiver, too.

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“We spent the whole summer working on running back,” head coach Hugh Fountain said. “We’ve spent part of the season working on being a better receiver.”

Barron said he and Cougars quarterback Michael Thompson have been working on building chemistry, but doing so is a process.

“We’re coming along. It’s just taking a little time because we’ve never played together,” Barron said. “When I was at practice, I played wide receiver a little bit and then we started staying after practice a little bit, throwing to each other and then our combination started coming together.”

According to Fountain, learning a new offense has been difficult for everyone, but he’s especially hopeful his younger players will embrace it as an opportunity to grow and learn.

“Our team is so new to one another. We’ve got younger kids that are playing a lot, so us getting on the same page is really one of the key things for us for this season,” Fountain said. “That’s the key thing for us with Winston is just getting him taught up all the different things because he’s going to know a whole lot more about football next year and what we do on offense than this year. Really, it’s no different for him than it is for someone like Michael (Thompson) because they’re having to learn a lot of new stuff for us this year that they didn’t have to do last year. It’s a new system and a new thing.”

In the Cougars first game of the season against Fort Dale Academy, fans who didn’t already know Barron got to know him quickly. He was a key part to their second half comeback that fell just short.

“It was just the first game. The second half, we felt more comfortable than we did in the first half because it was (our) first time playing together,” Barron said. “This is my first year playing with them. I think as the season goes on, we’ll get better and better every day.”

In Barron’s eyes, the key he saw in the game was his team’s effort in the second half.

“The first half wasn’t all that great, but we came back out there the second half and we tried,” Barron said.

Barron admitted to being a little nervous at the start of the first game, but he was able to shake it off pretty quickly.

“Once I took a couple licks, I felt like I was ready then,” Barron said. “My adrenaline was pumping and I was ready to play some football.”

Now, Barron has stepped up to become one of the leaders on his team. He’s already prepared a way to reach out to his teammates for Friday’s upcoming road game against Sparta Academy.

“I’m planning on having a long speech with my team and let them know that we are brothers,” Barron said. “We don’t need to go out there with our heads down; keep our heads high and play hard. I think we’ll get our first win on Friday.”

Barron has had some help from his senior teammates, who have tried to teach him how to be a leader.

“Michael (Thompson) and Reid (Bell) and Tehron (Stallworth), they’ve tried to take Winston under their wing and teach him, too, which is good because in the long run that’s what you need is you need teammates trying to pull you along and help you come along with what you’re learning,” Fountain said.

Fountain said he tries to prepare everyone on his team to be ready to be the player who may be the difference between a win and a loss, even the younger players. Barron was prepared to be a difference maker and had several big plays against Fort Dale. He wants to do whatever it takes to win.

“I like doing whatever is best for the team,” Barron said.

Barron said he was disappointed he didn’t do more to help his team after their difficult loss to Monroe Academy this past Friday.

“I feel like Friday night I should have stepped up,” Barron said. “Maybe they would have fought along and followed me. But this Friday, I think we’ll play good.”

Fountain said his coaching philosophy extends beyond the football field and he wants to see great things out of Barron in all facets of his life.

“I’m a little different coaching because football is important to me, but the most important thing to me is that Winston does something with himself when he gets out of here,” Fountain said. “Winning we all know is important, but the most important thing is I’m no different when I lose three games or when I win three games. I’m going to still treat you the same. I’m not going to go out there and cuss your butt out for something like that. I’m proud of Winston. It’s no different than it is for every kid that comes out here.”