Offense was the name of the game for high school football in El Paso in 2016. From UTEP signee Josh Fields to Parkland super sophomore Deion Hankins, the numbers put up by teams were simply staggering. But one player from the District 1-6A co-champions also put on his own show and made a name for himself in 2016. This comes in his first full year back at quarterback after spending time at running back as a sophomore.
El Dorado quarterback Cedarious Barfield put up some staggering numbers, finishing with 3,069 yards passing, 33 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Barfield also changed games with his legs, rushing for 1,582 yards and 22 touchdowns. He even had a 76-yard touchdown catch in a game against Midland Lee. Those numbers propelled the Aztecs to a share of the 1-6A title and earned Barfield a spot on the AP 6A second team at quarterback. It begs the question: How did a converted running back find that much success that quickly? Lots and lots of hard work.
“When you go back to spring ball, he was a little erratic and not as fluid in his motion. But, he’s so smart and athletic and when you combine those two things together, that learning curve is off the charts,” said El Dorado head coach Ruben Torres, “Even if you compared Weeks 1 and 2 this season to Weeks 7 and 8, he just continued to get better and better.”
That intelligence is not only evident on the field but in the classroom as well. The Aztec signal caller is currently number two in his class and has garnered interest from schools such as TCU and Vanderbilt. Barfield also credits the hard work put in during the offseason to improve, especially as a passer.
“I went to a lot of camps last year and I just tried to work on my passing,” Barfield said, “I felt like that after my sophomore year I could run, but I needed to be able to read defenses better and work on my accuracy. I was more comfortable in the system this year and Coach Torres helped put me in the best position to make plays.”
In his first year as the Aztecs head coach, Torres saw what he had with Barfield and wanted to utilize him as much as possible. He also saw someone who was motivated to show what he could do on the field.
“I think he has a chip on his shoulder,” Torres said, “There was a lot of people last year who were saying ‘Oh, he’s just an athlete, he can’t throw.’ But if you look at his completion percentage and touchdown-to-interception ratio and you add his legs to that, he’s just really hard to stop.”
As of this article, Barfield only has one scholarship offer from Incarnate Word in San Antonio, but he says UTEP, San Diego State, and Kansas among others have shown interest. Incarnate Word has him slotted as a quarterback, but others have viewed him as an athlete because of his explosive speed and quickness. Barfield is embracing the whole process in stride and just wants to go out and make an impact somewhere.
“Honestly, I see myself as an athlete that plays quarterback,” Barfield said, “I’ve been playing a lot of receiver, cornerback, defensive back. It really doesn’t matter where Coach puts me, I just want to have an opportunity to play and contribute to whatever school I go to.”
One could argue that the turning point for Barfield’s improvement passer came in a span of three weeks with games against Wolfforth Frenship and their first district game against Eastwood.
“When we played Frenship, I felt like he was trying to do everything and his play suffered a little bit.” Torres said, “He comes back two weeks later against Eastwood and instead of pressing when we were down, he really let the game come to him and he comes back and leads us to a win while playing hurt. You could really see him grow into the position as a quarterback and a leader.”
That momentum not only helped Barfield through that game, but through the rest of the season as he continued to build confidence. As his team looks ahead to 2017, Barfield will be the focus once again as he loses top receivers Tyquez Hampton and Jorge Hernandez to graduation. But Barfield is ready to take on that challenge and work towards winning another district title and perhaps a playoff run.
“We’re going to have a lot of new starters at receiver and on the offensive line. We have to trust each other, know our goal and build a brotherhood and become even closer next season. I’m just really excited about this team.”
As for Torres, he’s excited for the opportunity to work with his talented signal caller for one more year.
“As we continue working with him, I expect Cedarious to continue to grow. He’ll continue to get better as a passer and I think the sky’s the limit for him.”