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Record-setting Barry aiming for Loftier Goals

Photo by Shawn Turri

The reigning Section VI Class B Iroquois got 2023 off to a strong start defeating Albion 51-6. Quarterback Justus Kleitz led Iroquois by passing for 318 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 34 yards and a score. Running back Colin Lee added 51 rushing yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Nate Blair caught 8 passes for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns to pace the Iroquois receiving corp. Meanwhile, the Iroquois defense held Albion to just six points.

How does one follow up a season that resulted in just the second sectional title in his school’s history, a Western New York record 43 rushing touchdowns and a Connolly Cup?

With more records and more wins.

That’s how Trevor Barry, the reigning top player in Section VI, is looking at things going into his senior year. The 43 scores, plus over 2,300 rushing yards, 274 points scored (the second-most in area history) were dazzling numbers for a running back and coach Robert Pitzonka credited Barry’s success to his work ethic.

“Trevor has in his basement what would be equivalent to a World’s Gym,” Pitzonka said. “Before he got into middle school, he and his older brother Tyler really wanted a weight room and his dad kind of gave them an ultimatum of ‘If you do this many pushups, sit ups and bodyweight squats consecutively for so many months, I'll build it for you.’ And they both did it and Trevor has pretty much lived there.

Additionally, Barry is a very productive linebacker. 62 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries on defense aren’t numbers to sneeze at, and Pitzonka credits not just Barry’s work ethic, but his coaching staff and Barry’s wrestling background for his success in that arena.

“I think he’s undervalued as a linebacker,” Pitzonka said. “It's easy to look at the stats and look at the touchdowns and what he does offensively, but he is being heavily recruited as a linebacker right now – Michigan State is talking to him, for example. We’re fortunate to have my brother Travis as our linebacker coach and co-defensive coordinator, and Travis played at the University of Buffalo under Lou Tepper as a linebacker. He and Trevor have a special relationship and they’ve put in a lot of work on his defensive play this summer.

“What you’re seeing is the wrestler come out of him at linebacker – he finished third in the state last year at 215 pounds. His sophomore year he finished fifth in the state as a heavyweight and this year he's gunning to win the state championship as a wrestler at 215. So when you see him stunt and blitz and tackle you're seeing him use wrestler takedowns. I don't think there's many people that can get his way and stop him from getting to the ball carrier or quarterback.”

Barry is also a very good student whose GPA is in the mid-90s, and not only is he taking care of business on the field and in the classroom, but he’s also grown as a leader for the Chiefs too.

“He's got very good grades,” Pitzonka said. “He's getting all this exposure and interest from colleges because it's great if you can do what you can on the field, but you’ve got to have the grades to match and he's fortunate enough to have that as well.

“He’s also taken such a great stride forward in leadership this year. He’s really taken care of not just his teammates on varsity, but even the younger guys on JV and really shown them the ropes of what our standard is at Iroquois. That to me was the last piece for him to really check off was that leadership piece and he’s embraced it because we've lost some great leaders from last year and he stepped right into this role and the team's feeding off it.”

One would think that the success that has followed Barry around would go to his head. But it hasn’t, according to Pitzonka, and Barry remains humble enough to not look ahead and to keep his focus on daily and weekly goals for him and his team.

“The thing about Trevor that makes him special is that he's a very grounded guy,” Pitzonka said. “Everybody knows his name in the Western New York community but he treats every teammate the same. And he's so focused on team goals.

“Last year he wanted a sectional championship so badly because as a freshman and sophomore, he came up short. As a freshman, we pulled him up to varsity and we lost to Maritime in double overtime. He saw his brother – who was a senior that year – come up short, and he remembered how much it hurt the seniors to come up short. Then the following year, he got hurt during our second outing against Maritime at Highmark Stadium and we got beat up by them. To Trevor, if we're winning as a team, all of the other things will take care of themselves.”

To Pitzonka, Barry is an extension of Iroquois’ coaching staff and those traits will serve him well in his senior year.

“A couple of years ago, Trevor was my next quarterback in line after Trey Kleitz graduated. He was a gifted quarterback,” Pitzonka said. “We're lucky that Justus (Trey’s brother) stepped up last year because it afforded us to use Trevor at what he's really good at – which is running the football and I think because he got those reps as a quarterback, it helps him out tremendously.

“We run a very college-style offense. I do a ton of work with other programs and colleges just to expand our offense and he sees the game like a coach or a quarterback. And that’s dangerous for other teams – when you're a running back and he's helping the quarterback make adjustments at the line of scrimmage, he's able to digest what the other team's trying to do to us. So he always has us in the right position, and his smarts both on and off the field will be tremendous assets to him after he graduates.”

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