June 24, 2014 11:51PM
By Bryant Carpenter
MIDDLETOWN — If you’re familiar with Stephen Barmore’s style, you can spot the Southington quarterback at work from a distance, long before you can make out the No. 14 on his practice jersey or the No. 12 on his game uniform.
The crisp dropback, the quick read, the bold step into the pocket, the right arm catapulting high over the shoulder.
And if the ball hits a receiver in stride, well, you know you’re eyes aren’t playing tricks.
The last time we saw Barmore he was leading the Blue Knights to a 52-34 come-from-behind victory over Fairfield Prep in the CIAC Class LL championship game (and punctuating it with a pick-six) on a damp December night in West Haven.
This Saturday, all of eight days before he heads down to New Haven to begin his college career at Yale, we’ll see him one last time as a high schooler in the Super 100 Classic, the second annual All-Connecticut Senior All-Star football game at Rentschler Field (kickoff 4:30 p.m.).
Barmore will be quarterbacking Team Constitution for Xavier coach Sean Marinan against Team Nutmeg, coached by Sheehan skipper John Ferrazzi with assistance from, among others, Platt head man Jason Bruenn.
“It’s nice to get back in pads and throwing the ball around with some really good guys,” Barmore said after practice Monday night at Middletown High School. “This game is about having fun and being able to represent what respective team you’re on. It’s been a good time.”
Saturday’s game does have a unique edge for Barmore. Of the “Super 100” players on the two rosters, he is one of just five who, last time they were on a football field, won a state championship. (Southington kicker Kyle Smick, Ansonia lineman Anton Mack, St. Joseph defensive end Mike Schuchmann and St. Joseph defensive back Darren Jackson are the others.)
“You better not lose. You don’t want to end your high school career on that note, especially after going out on a such a high note at the end of the fall,” Barmore said with a chuckle, then added, “To finish with a win here would be a really nice way to cap off my career and leave me with fond memories of high school football.”
Barmore has plenty of those. Last fall, he completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for 3,088 yards and a school-record 42 touchdowns (against just six interceptions) in leading Southington to its first state football crown since 1998.
For his career, which began with four starts as a freshman, Barmore was 464-for-761 for 6,803 yards and 76 TDs.
The yardage ranks him eighth in the Connecticut record book and second to only Dan Bruetsch (7,514) in the Southington book.
The 464 completions rank him seventh all-time in the state and No. 1 in Southington. The 76 TDs put him No. 7 in the state book and second in Southington behind Bruetsch (80).
Blessed with explosive speed — Barmore broke the school record in the 100 dash this spring — Southington’s graduating 6-foot-2, 210-pound quarterback also brought a heightened mobility to the position. He rushed for 1,231 career yards.
The numbers testify to Barmore’s skill set, but maybe just hint at the intangibles teammates and coaches say he provides: leadership, confidence, smarts.
“The beauty of a kid like Steve Barmore, a 3½-4 year starter, is you say something once and it’s done,” remarked Jon Esmail, the one-time Southington player and current Hartford Public assistant who is helping coach the Team Constitution offense. “We went over signals today. Three minutes: got it. Picked it up boom, boom, boom. Anything we put in, it’s already repped through in his head a million times because he’s just that type of player, that type of intellect.”
Barmore takes mind and body to Yale on July 6, when he moves in with teammates to get acclimated, condition, even work a part-time job. It’s pure team-building stuff. Preseason camp begins August 17.
In the meantime, Barmore saddles up the high school horse one last time with an All-Star offense similar to the one he ran in Southington.
He’ll be rotating at QB for Team Constitution with long-time acquaintance and playing rival Jalen Ollie of Glastonbury. Ollie, son of UConn basketball coach Kevin Ollie, shares a quarterback coach with Barmore, but throughout high school their teams were primary rivals in the CCC.
“He’s a really good kid and a great quarterback,” Barmore said. “It’s very nice to be working with him on the same team.”
Barmore and Ollie have a diverse group of receivers to target. Among them are speedsters Kenny Jones of Farmington and Khary Childs of Ledyard as well as 6-foot-4 Myles Goulbourne of Crosby.
“We’ve got possession guys, we’ve got big, tall guys who can go up and get it, we’ve got fast little speedy guys,” Barmore noted. “Everything you want in a receiving corps, we have.”
It all starts behind center, though, which is why Team Constitution, despite driving Marinan nuts with a less-than-sharp practice Monday, has got to feel good about Saturday.
“It doesn’t hurt that he’s probably one of the fastest kids in the state, one of the strongest kids in the state and, coming off a state championship victory, he’s one of the few kids in the state going into the game as a winner,” Esmail said.
“We’re going to look for him to lead us and I think we have a good shot with him on our side.”
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of Record-Journal stories on area players and coaches who will participate in the Super 100 Classic. Tomorrow: Platt; Friday: Sheehan; Saturday: Coaches.