There were some nerves, for sure.
After all, only the entire Holy Trinity football season was riding on the 30-yard field goal that senior Connor Barber was about to attempt.
And, oh, right — Connor Barber had never tried one of those before in a game.
A soccer player who hadn’t played football before this season, Connor Barber had only kicked a field goal in practice before Holy Trinity head coach John Barber sent him onto the field at Glens Falls with less than two minutes to go. Yet, his kick was about to decide if Holy Trinity could retake the lead against the defending Class B state champions with a berth in the Section II Class B championship game to play Schuylerville on the line.
So, no pressure or anything.
“I know, right?” Connor Barber said. “Great time for my first one, right?”
But Connor Barber — who isn’t related to his head coach — was all smiles after Saturday’s game, a 37-35 win for Holy Trinity in which the senior delivered the final points with a no-doubt-about-it field goal.
“It was scary,” Connor Barber, laughing, said, “but it was nice, too.”
Down 35-34 heading into its final offensive drive, John Barber had told the senior to get ready. The coach planned to have Connor Barber kick if the team faced a fourth down within 25 yards of the end zone.
Connor Barber’s response?
If that moment arrived, could the team make sure his kick originated from the left hash marks?
“We’ll take care of that for you,” John Barber told him.
Remembering that exchange after the game, John Barber chuckled.
Turns out, he has a confident kicker.
“He doesn’t know any better,” John Barber said.
That Holy Trinity was in a spot that a late-game kick mattered was impressive on its own. Glens Falls scored on its opening drive, and Holy Trinity trailed from there through the first play of the fourth quarter, when senior Joe Tortello connected for the fourth time with senior Noah Foster for a touchdown. Glens Falls, though, answered that score with a go-ahead score of its own — and, then, Holy Trinity’s final drive got off to a shaky start.
That possession started at the Holy Trinity 5-yard line with 7:23 to go, and saw the team pushed back to its own 2 after a first-down rushing attempt. An incompletion later, Holy Trinity faced third and 13, but Tortello zipped a pass to Foster that went for 38 yards.
Six run plays followed before a Tortello incompletion that set up third and 8 from the Glens Falls 12. Rather than try to gain the first down or go for the end zone, Holy Trinity placed the ball into the hands of Foster who took a one-yard rushing loss to make sure Connor Barber was kicking from his preferred side of the turf.
As he watched that play unfold, Connor Barber said he couldn’t help some negative thoughts from entering his mind. His soccer season with Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons — Holy Trinity football combines players from Bishop Maginn, ND-BG and Catholic Central — had only ended Oct. 22, so he’d just recently started practicing full-time with the football team that has mostly split its extra-point responsibilities between Connor Barber and junior Raion Barrett this season.
Man, it would be tough to miss.
“I didn’t want to be ‘that guy,’” Connor Barber said.
On the sideline, though, his teammates rallied around him with words of support. When he headed onto the field, he gained confidence with each step. A deep breath calmed him right before the snap from junior Alex Belcher to senior Tanner Kiser.
“All right,” Connor Barber said to himself, “let’s do this.”
A few seconds later, he was celebrating with his teammates.
“We had a great snap, a great hold and I just tried to put it through,” said Connor Barber, who also made all four of his extra-point attempts in Saturday’s game.
After Connor Barber’s field goal, Holy Trinity needed one final defensive stop. It got that when Rodney Parker sacked Glens Falls junior quarterback Noah Girard to close the game.
For both Glens Falls and Holy Trinity, it was a game filled with great performances. Glens Falls sophomore Griffin Woodell scored five touchdowns, while each of Holy Trinity stars Foster, Nacier Hundley and Tortello produced one highlight after another.
And, yet, the memorable football semifinal’s game-winning score came from soccer-first Connor Barber.
“He was ready for that moment,” Foster said, “and we believed in him.”
Reach Michael Kelly at [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.