In mid-December Kansas Pregame contacted 8-Man football coaches in an effort to name a first ever Top 8 team of seniors for both divisions of 8-Man football in Kansas. After an overwhelming response from coaches, and once all the votes were tallied, 16 players were selected.
This is the fifth of 16 individual player profiles highlighting the Top 8 selections in each division and released in no particular order. Look for more in the coming days.
Tra Barrientes, OL/DL, 5-8, 240, Sylvan-Lucas, Sr.
For Sylvan-Lucas senior Tra Barrientes it wasn’t always clear he’d develop into one of the state’s top small-school athletes. But Barrientes gained confidence year-over-year and practically willed himself into becoming the powerfully built 5-8, 240 pound force he is today.
“Tra is one of the hardest working football players I've ever coached,” Sylvan-Lucas coach Ben Labertew said. “He goes hard every rep, doesn't matter if it is practice or a game. For a coach, that makes it a lot of fun.”
His relentless style is noticeable immediately when watching Barrientes on the field, and the unstoppable force finished the season as S-L’s top blocker on offense and leading tackler on defense with 94 total stops and a head-turning nine fumble recoveries.
The Mustangs were successful all four years that Barrientes played, but his final season in high school, and the group he played with, made 2020 particularly unique.
“Definitely has been one of my favorite years in high school so far. I loved playing for my team this year and being able to lead them to a 7-3 season,” Barrientes said. “We lose five seniors this year that all played on the line.”
But it’s not just the success of the team and the experienced position group Barrientes enjoyed as a senior.
“This team has been the most supportive and hardworking group I’ve had here at Sylvan, always backing each other when everything got rough,” Barrientes said. “My favorite aspect about football is the family and relationships you make through the sport. Just knowing they have your back whenever you need it makes the sport worth playing!”
In addition to making it on the 8-Man, Division II Top 8 list, Barrientes also received All-State first team honors from the Topeka Capital-Journal at defensive line, as well as a nod on the honorable mention list for the Wichita Eagle.
Barrientes’ dominant abilities to outmaneuver and overpower an opponent are not just limited to the football field. Sylvan-Lucas wrestles in a cooperative agreement with neighboring Lincoln and he is one of the state’s top senior wrestlers in all classes.
In 2019, Barrientes posted a 39-1 record and won the 3-2-1A State Wrestling Championship at 285 pounds. He is currently 7-0 and ranked first in the state with a goal of making it back to the top of the podium in consecutive years, which would make him the first wrestler in Sylvan-Lucas/Lincoln history to win back-to-back state titles.
After high school, Barrientes will be a Bethel College Thresher, where he could either play center on the offensive line or defensive tackle.