By Jamie Wachter / Sports Editor
The Meridian Star
Mac Barnes doesn’t remember every single stat from his 32 seasons as a head coach.
But the Lamar football coach recalls enough of them that he is fairly certain Corey Skinner achieved something this season that nobody has done before, whether it be when he was at Meridian High or since taking over Lamar’s program — rush for 1,660 yards.
The Raiders’ senior running back churned out that total on 225 carries and scored 148 points, giving him the most rushing yards ever for a Barnes-coached team. It also helped him earn a spot in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools All-Star game Friday. He will be joined there by Lamar teammate Brett Stewart, an offensive lineman.
“He has the most yards of anyone I’ve coached,” Barnes said. “And he still wasn’t getting 20 carries a game and still helped on defense.”
Skinner, who began his career at Clarkdale prior to transferring to Lamar before the 2011-12 school year, has been a joy to coach while also being a key cog in the Raiders’ offense.
After rushing for 864 yards a year ago, he improved to those lofty totals this year as Lamar became a more ground-oriented attack.
“He was such a joy to coach, effort-wise,” Barnes said. “It didn’t matter if it was practice or a game, if he was going to do it, he was totally committed to it.”
A large part of that rushing success is because of Stewart, a 6-foot-1, 260-pounder. As the lone senior on Lamar’s offensive front, Stewart opened many of the holes for Skinner and Lee Martin, especially early.
“A lot of people that didn’t play us the past several years, like Brookhaven Academy when they last saw us, we were a four-wide, run it to just keep the defense honest,’” Barnes said. “But this year, our bread and butter was the running game. And our most improved area was the offensive line and Brett was the lone senior among those five. Towards the end of the season, we spread it around a little bit more, but especially early, we just ran it right behind him.”
Even with the two selections, Barnes admitted some mild disappointment that quarterback Barrett Dudley in addition to a few other Lamar mainstays were not selected. However, he said there was a wealth of options among signal callers in the South this season. Plus, that doesn’t take away from the accomplishment for his two All-Stars.
“I really gfelt like we had a chance to have more than those two, but the coaches and the committee that select that, when they get together, they have to spread it out,” he said. “We had some others that were worthy of it.
“But I’m so proud of Corey and Brett. Hopefully, they’ll get to play college ball and I really feel like this will help them with the college coaches getting a chance to see them over there this week.”