Greater Johnstown graduate Barber takes indoor football game with Vegas Knight Hawks | Sports

Anthony Barber’s journey, a graduate of Greater Johnstown High School, to play on the Vegas Knight Hawks of the Indoor Football League was hardly conventional.

The 6-foot-5 offensive lineman will play his fourth game with the Knight Hawks when Vegas hosts the Northern Arizona Wranglers on Sunday at Dollar Loan Center in Henderson, Nevada.

“It’s really different,” said Barber, who has played left guard since joining the Knight Hawks 3-4 in the IFL on April 16. “The speed took me a while to get used to. Once I got used to it and got my feet wet a bit, the game slowed down a lot from the first time I played until now.

“It’s different not having a tackle or another guard right in front of you. Even playing without tight ends it’s completely different, but it’s fun to get out there and play within five yards of each other,” he said.

“There are fewer people there. It’s more intense. The sense of urgency goes through the roof as you have to deal with fans and loud noises. Everything keeps ringing and ringing because nothing escapes.

Barber is used to adapting on the football field.

He stood out under coach Tony Penna Jr. in Greater Johnstown.

Stops at St. Francis University in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) at Lock Haven University in the NCAA Division II followed high school, with Barber being a contributor important to every program almost immediately.

An appearance in Dream Bowl X, an all-star game that traditionally features the best players from non-Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) programs, took place in January.

A March 30 pro day at St. Francis University and a practice session in Monroeville ahead of April’s National Football League (NFL) draft also took place.

Barber may have been hoping to sign a free agent contract with an NFL or Canadian Football League (CFL) team, but when those doors closed, he pushed on.

Of course, some crucial advice from one of the greatest players in Canadian Football League history helped the cause. Another former Trojan, Geroy Simon, assistant general manager of the CFL’s Edmonton Elks, has guided Barber and his family over the past few months as he tries to find his footing in professional football.

“I know Anthony’s dad, Sam (Barber),” Simon said in a phone interview Wednesday. “We grew up together, graduated together and played together for the Trojans. Any kid that comes out of Johnstown and pursues a career, I’ll be there for them.

“I am ready to guide them and help them if they really want to. I have offered many children in Johnstown the opportunity if they want to pursue their careers, whether in college or playing football. professional soccer.

Simon had Barber work for the Edmonton Elks staff in Pittsburgh. He didn’t earn a spot on the list, but did manage to earn a lot of respect.

“Anthony and his dad did everything I asked,” Simon said.

“It’s almost as if I had the roadmap. It only takes one or two phone calls to get a player into the right position.

“I believe he can play.

“I told him to gain 10 pounds, come to our practice. He came to our practice in Pittsburgh. In an hour and a half, he never complained. He never gave up. He just kept going and going. He conquered the head coach.

Simon reached out to Vegas general manager/head coach Mike Davis, a former coach and longtime CFL administrator.

“The Vegas head coach and general manager is a good friend of mine,” Simon said. “It was just a matter of me saying, ‘I’ve got an offensive lineman for you.’ Mike signed it within 24 hours.

Barber has adapted both on and off the pitch.

From Johnstown, Loretto and Lock Haven to Las Vegas, it’s quite a change of pace.

“Living in Vegas overall is something special,” Barber said.

“I wear shorts and slides everywhere I go, but I miss home. All in all a new experience, a fun experience.

“I just have to make sure I don’t get caught up in Vegas life because I’m on a mission and my biggest thing is to take it to the next level and not be complacent.”

Barber is determined to follow the advice of his family, as well as people like Simon, Penna and his Johnstown support system.

“Geroy said to me, ‘That’s probably the best thing you wanted to do right now instead of waiting for a phone call,'” Barber said.

“I played for Geroy and showed him my athletic abilities.

“He liked what he saw.”

Mike Mastovich is a sports journalist and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.

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