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Los Al makes Barnes' 300th a special one
LONG BEACH - Los Alamitos coach John Barnes hugged his wife, his two sons and daughter, and then, it seemed, the rest of the city. One person after another approached Barnes, each of them congratulating and then thanking him for what had just happened.
Barnes won his 300th game as a high school football coach Thursday night, a 46-0 romp against Marina in front of a few thousand fans at Veterans Stadium.
Players wearing white T-shirts commemorating the achievement excitedly jumped around nearby.
“Victory smells so good,” one beamed.
Following a trophy presentation, Barnes briefly took the podium and said, “My heart has always been in Los Al and it will stay in Los Al forever.”
Barnes said he still remembers his first victory as a high school football coach, in 1978, while he was at Magnolia. His team won only twice that season, but that first one handed Cypress its only loss.
His first victory coaching Los Alamitos came the following season, against Huntington Beach, in the Griffins’ third game. Thirty-four years later, he is the fourth California coach ever to win 300 games.
“That’s pretty humbling,” said Barnes, the state’s winningest active coach and Orange County’s all-time winningest coach, before using a common refrain from this week. “It’s about my wife, family, coaches and community.”
The toughest time he had Thursday was the hours leading up to the Sunset League opener.
“The emotion was almost too much for me to comprehend,” Barnes said. “I was very nervous. When you play in CIF championship games, you’re just excited. I felt like we had to come out and play well. The pressure was on.”
The suspense didn’t last long after kickoff. A small plane flew over the field early in the second quarter with the message: “Good Luck Barnes on Win #300.”
No. 11 Los Alamitos (5-1, 1-0) already led 39-0 by that point and scored moments later on a touchdown pass from Cody Marshall to Josh Davis. It was Marshall’s third touchdown pass, his second to Davis. On his first pass of the game, and Los Alamitos’ second play from scrimmage, Marshall connected with Dashawn Gordon for a 40-yard touchdown.
Just before the end of the first quarter, linebacker Matt Locher tipped a pass to himself for an interception, then rumbled 32 yards for a touchdown. The Griffins defense forced three turnovers and allowed Marina's offense to advance past midfield just twice.
The Griffins offense scored on their first six possessions of the first half, including two touchdown runs by Marshall and one by running back Ricardo Molina.
“I think they wanted to win more than I did,” Barnes said.
Los Alamitos will return to Veterans Stadium next week to be host to Edison. Marina (3-3, 0-1) will play Huntington Beach.