Posted on 16 September 2013 by La Habra Journal
by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal
Sophomore quarterback Eric Barriere looks for a receiver in the Highlanders 35-26 win over La Mirada, Sept. 6.
When it comes to high school sports, senior players are the usual suspects in terms of leadership.
However, while the La Habra football team has its share of seniors, sophomore quarterback Eric Barriere is leading by example and turning heads in the process.
The 15-year-old dazzled spectators for a third consecutive week last Friday, throwing for 289 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-7 nonleague victory over St.Paul.
“I just remained focused and tried to pick apart the defense,” Eric said. “I had to know my reads and all the coverages and see what the corners would do.”
It was just another solid week for Eric, who has thrown 11 touchdown passes in his first three contests, two of which were against playoff teams from a season ago.
While heads have turned, one of the few who are not surprised by Eric’s success, is Frank Mazzotta, Highlanders head coach, who admitted that it’s not Eric’s physical tools that impress him the most.
“In the first three games, he’s done everything I thought he was capable of doing,” Mazzotta said. “The first thing is, he’s really smart. I’ve been saying that every day. He’s also extremely athletic with a great arm and he has a great football sense, you can’t coach that part. Whatever he has there he’s come in with. My job has been teaching him some of the intricacies with the quarterback position. He has the ‘it’ factor.”
Toward the end of last season, Eric received playing time late in games as a freshman, but with Sean Sparling graduating in the spring, it was Eric’s turn to lead the offense in 2013.
“At first I was nervous, but then I calmed down, knowing that if I go out there and play, I would have no worries if I play my way,” he said.
Eric has been playing the quarterback position, since he was eight years old. Along with his philosophy and simple mindset, his experience has helped guide the offense, as the Highlanders have rattled off three big wins to start the season.
In addition to his experience and new starting role, Eric has set some lofty goals for himself in just his sophomore year.
“I want to throw over 30 touchdowns, 2,000 yards passing and 10 rushing touchdowns,” he said “Also, try to win CIF and become first-team all-CIF and first-team All-league.”
For a sophomore, those goals may be pretty steep, but Eric has already showcased his ability to utilize the weapons around him.
Not only that, he believes that his hard work in practice will have a big impact on his success on the field.
“I think that’s the biggest thing he’s been learning,” Mazzotta said. “He has some God-given gifts, but the great ones enhance those great gifts by their work ethic, by that commitment to the finer points, he’s learning that. One thing about him, because he’s so smart, he picks things up quick, he’s a quick study. We’re really fortunate that he picks things up really fast.”
His hard work immediately earned him the respect of his teammates. Though he’s asked to be a leader, he respects his junior and senior teammates who have put in more time to the program.
“Everybody enjoys him, he’s a good kid and he’s humble,” Mazzotta said. “He doesn’t walk around patting himself on the back and acting grandiose. All the great kids we’ve had here, they’re all quiet and lead by example. He fits that mold. He earns his respect by how hard he works and the amount of time he puts in.”
Hard work and dedication are two traits that Eric picked up from his role models, which he listed as his mom, Michael Jordan and Robert Griffin III in that order.
“My mom is one of my role models because she’s a hard worker,” he said. “Michael Jordan is a hard worker, he dedicates himself to the game and I consider myself to be like that, same with RGIII.”
Eric uses those same philosophies in the classroom, where in his sophomore year, he’s enjoying English and World History, more specifically, studying the Renaissance.
When he’s not on the field or in the classroom, he enjoys playing with friends and watching horror movies or comedies. Like any football player, he also enjoys playing Madden NFL.
While he’s on the field though, he is all business. And while he may be a sophomore, his age has not hindered him in the slightest. It will be no different when the Highlanders play Mission Viejo this Friday.
“I’m looking forward to going out there and seeing what we can do,” he said. “Hopefully we can get a victory.”
Regardless of the outcome, Eric will be ready to lead his offense come game time. If his performance resembles his previous three, spectators should be ready for a jaw-dropping moment or two.
“I think the sky is the limit [for him],” Mazzotta said. “The only limit for him would be himself. His potential is limitless.”