Calm and consistent: Pate Barrett's go-ahead field goal sets up Memorial-Reitz rematch

Anthony Kristensen
Evansville Courier & Press
  • Final: Memorial 17, Jasper 14

JASPER, Ind. — Pate Barrett was nervous. At least a little bit. That’s all he admitted to.

The Memorial sophomore kicker entered the fray with 1:36 remaining in a time game and having already seen one field-goal attempt blocked. The 26-yard shot sailed through the uprights, just as they have throughout the season, but the moment wasn’t too much for him. Kickers, more often than not, don’t want to be the story.

This was one of the exceptions. 

His left-footed thud — along with a fourth-down defensive stop — gave the Tigers a 17-14 win over Jasper during Friday's Class 4A Sectional 24 semifinal and provided them a rematch against Reitz next week for the championship.

Scoreboard:Check out the Evansville-area high school football scores from sectional semifinals

“Making that was the most important one,” Barrett said. “I just put (the blocked field goal) behind when I had to go out there and I relaxed and made it.”

Memorial football coach John Hurley addresses his team following the 17-14 win over Jasper on Friday.

Both Memorial and Jasper have played run-heavy offensive styles throughout the season. The Tigers have done so more out of necessity with quarterback Matthew Fisher’s injury, though he made a brief one-play cameo Friday — a 48-yard completion to Dylen Kendrick. Memorial won the ground-majority matchup with two non-running plays: Barrett’s kick and wide receiver Simon Schulz’s first high school passing touchdown.

Stand-in slinger Luke Ellspermann passed to Schulz, who found Dasmon Johnson in the end zone for the Tigers’ second score. 

“I’m always ready to throw it,” Schulz said. “My face lit up and I was ready for sure.”

The postgame conversations always came back to the crucial, winning play. Barrett, a short but athletic 5-foot-7 kicker who could play elsewhere but focuses on field goals, sent Memorial through and Jasper home. The mentality to put the previous block behind him and make the routine-yet-nervewracking shot was admirable; his postgame smile seemed relieving. Barrett had the final say and gave the Tigers another shot at Reitz.

“That’s tough stuff,” Memorial coach John Hurley said. “We try to put him in tough spots in practice and try to make him uncomfortable in practice at times because he’s going to be in uncomfortable situations in a game.

“He handled it like a man tonight.”

Pate Barrett

Barrett received encouraging words on the sidelines after his blocked kick. Nothing changes his approach. A couple steps back, a few deep breaths and he lines himself up. He’s relaxed on the surface, even if there were some nagging nerves underneath on the clincher. Though just a sophomore, he’s been through this before. He’s been successful; he’s missed; he’s been clutch; he’s been blocked.

Nothing changes the approach. Not even the brink of elimination.

“He’s very consistent and he doesn’t get fazed a lot,” Schulz said. “He’s very confident in what he does and that just shows the work he does during the week. He’s a true competitor.”

Barrett entered the locker room to his teammates chanting about their win and looking ahead to next week. There’s plenty to clean and much to scout with the Reitz rematch on the horizon. Memorial beat a good Wildcats team that possessed one of the stronger running games and defenses in the area, but there’s still a need for improvement. Those celebrating know there’s more work to be done.

The sophomore kicker, though, won’t be of concern. He’s consistent and unwavering in his approach; confident on the surface even if there are submerged nerves. Barrett’s kick won the night and gave Memorial a shot at a title.

That’s worth a story, even if the first one got blocked.

“I’ve missed one before and I get right back at it,” Barrett said. “I know I’m gonna have another opportunity and I gotta show out to that one.”