Senior has rushed for more than 2,500 yards, 30 TDs in time with Red Devils
Jeffersonville senior running back Jordan Barnett knows a thing or two about the Red Devils’ rivalry with New Albany.
Barnett – a 5-foot-7, 185-pound bruiser who’s made the most of ample playing time for Jeffersonville since his sophomore season – is 3-1 against the Bulldogs, with the only loss coming during his freshman year.
The hard-nosed senior has saved some of his best performances for the Red Devils’ matchups with New Albany, too, totaling nearly 500 yards on the ground and 10 touchdowns against the Bulldogs. That tally includes Barnett’s 218-yard, four-touchdown showing in Jeffersonville’s sectional-opening win last season, a 35-34 victory behind a 99-yard game-winning drive.
Barnett’s posted 2,510 yards and 31 touchdowns in his time with the Red Devils, which includes this season’s 830 yards – good for 29th in the state – and 10 scores in six games. He’s on pace to up that to 1,245 yards and 15 touchdowns in his final three regular-season outings.
The senior has, according to his coach Alfonzo Browning, carried on the legacy that comes with being a Jeffersonville running back.
“It’s nice, man,” Barnett said of his time suiting up for Jeffersonville. “It’s been good to me.”
READ MORE: Week 7 high school football preview capsules
The senior running back can be likened to a bowling ball when he’s barreling through opposing defenses. He has the speed, however, to beat foes outside and more than the required brute strength to run over them in between the tackles.
“He’s got great vision, great feet,” Browning said. “He’s hard to bring down. Very seldom do you see one guy bring him down. It’s been an honor and a blessing for me to coach him. I’ve seen it since – with him coming in as a freshman – I thought that he could be really, really good.”
One thing that makes the rivalry special for both Barnett and Browning is the alumni and community support, which gives the senior a little more motivation when all eyes are on him. But it’s unclear whether Barnett will reassert his dominance over the Bulldogs come Friday night when the Red Devils (3-3, 3-1 Hoosier Hills) host New Albany (4-2, 3-1) in the 90th meeting.
An ankle injury forced him to sit out Tuesday’s practice in street clothes, and, according to Browning, it’s not a lock that Barnett plays on Friday. If the senior is unable to go, junior Kam Fuller will be relied on heavily for Jeffersonville. He had 140 yards on just 13 carries last week, including touchdown runs of 81 and 49 yards. Fuller also hauled in a 26-yard touchdown catch.
New Albany coach Sean Coultis said he’s preparing for both Red Devils to play come Friday, and offered high praise for the duo.
“Every week I read about Jordan Barnett and Kam Fuller,” Coultis said. “Each of them running for 100 or 200 yards, or whatever it’s going to be. We know we have to gang-tackle. I told our team I think they’re the best two running backs we’ve faced all year – and they’re on the same team.”
Barnett’s injury scare is another in a series of unfortunate events for Jeffersonville. The Red Devils were nearly shut out at Floyd Central in Week 5 before dropping a 36-33 decision to Providence last week despite holding a late lead.
“We have to come together as a team now,” Barnett said. “We had two tough games this last week and the week before. We’re going to see what we can do against New Albany.”
The matchup against the Bulldogs is the first of the senior’s last four guaranteed games in his high school career, and the second-to-last home game. As he primes himself to pass the torch on to the next great Jeffersonville running back, he didn’t mince words when asked what he’ll miss most about his time with the Red Devils.
“I’ll miss most of the coaches,” Barnett said. “They helped me out a lot through the years.”
The senior running back has been Browning’s go-to guy in his first two seasons as head coach, as he preaches “Jeff High football,” a hard-nosed, bully-ball mentality embodied by Barnett’s ability to run the rock. Browning is a strong proponent of Barnett playing on the next level, though the senior isn’t eyeing anywhere in particular – yet.
Because that all can wait. Bragging rights, in the meantime, are on the line for Barnett and the Red Devils, even if the Jeffersonville great is unable to suit up.
Game of the Week
What: New Albany at Jeffersonville
When: 7 p.m.
Radio: WNAS-88.1, WJHI-98.5
Records: New Albany (4-2, 3-1 Hoosier Hills Conference), Jeffersonville (3-3, 3-1)
Rankings: New Albany No. 13 in 6A (AP)
Last week: New Albany W (56-20 at Madison), Jeffersonville L (36-33 vs. Providence)
Last meeting: Jeffersonville, 35-34 (Oct. 23, 2015, sectional)
The pick: New Albany, 27-24