Senior wide receiver Devante Conyers knelt and stared at the scene from the far sideline.
His good friend, teammate and Digital Harbor quarterback, Dominic Barnes, had a medical team tending to a severely broken ankle. An ambulance, flashing red lights, was parked behind them. Everyone on the sideline could sense Barnes’ injury was likely to end his season.Coach Keith Rudolph saw Barnes’ injury and described it as “horrific.” Playing against Poly on Friday night, Barnes was as electric as he’s been in his previous two games. He was injured on one of his trademark scrambles: after squirting through a couple of defenders, he darted toward the right sideline and broke a tackle before being taken down for a 22-yard gain.
So far this season, Barnes has had a knack for bouncing back, even after the hardest hits. This time he couldn’t.
“It hurt us badly because we’re a family,” senior running back Marquis Walker said. He’s like a brother to us. Me and D.C. (Conyers), we started crying. That’s our brother. We all work together.”
Before Barnes went down, the game was tied at 6-6 with 10:01 left in the third quarter. Digital Harbor was driving, thanks to Barnes’ run that got the Rams down to Poly’s 13 yard line. But after what was at least a 30-minute delay to tend to Barnes and get him on the way to the hospital, the Rams had trouble moving the ball. Poly seized the momentum, scored twice and won the game 20-6.
“Losing him hurt us badly,” Walker said. “We were so used to him taking over games for us.”
Barnes had 80 rushing yards on five carries before his injury. He also threw a touchdown to Joshua Lee in the second quarter. This was following a spectacular performance a week before against Patterson, where Barnes ran for 177 yards and threw for 101.
With Barnes out for the season, junior Marvin Johnson will take the reins at quarterback. Johnson ran with the first team during the offseason before Barnes came out for the team when school opened this fall.
“As a team we have to bounce back and hit the hill,” Rudolph said. “We’re going to go back to the drawing board and get back to work on offense.”
No matter who the quarterback is at Digital Harbor, Walker said the Rams won’t change how it approaches each week.
“The mindset’s still the same, and that’s to win,” Walker said. “That’s the only thing we need to do, is win.”
Digital Harbor, at 2-1 so far this season, has already doubled its wins from last year, when the Rams went 1-9.
by Jason Butt