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Prep football: Barnett brothers help fuel Judge's competitive drive

Published November 14, 2013 2:52 pm

Prep football • Bulldogs face Manti for the 3A state title.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

They couldn't be further removed from the days perched on the piano bench, firing away their fingers at the keys.

Mark and Max Barnett studied sheet music and rhythms growing up, but they held out hope they'd one day capitalize on the endless hours of route running and drills practiced in the backyard with dad.

Predictably, piano eventually gave way to football, which turned into a breeding ground for competition between themselves and their two brothers, Jack, the oldest, and Alex, the youngest.

The Barnetts already are a football legacy, despite having just one son graduate and move on — Jack, now a sophomore on the Army sprint football team at West Point.

The rest of the clan still paces the turf at McCarthey Stadium for a Bulldog program four quarters — perhaps more — away from hoisting its first state championship in 30 years Saturday when Judge Memorial faces Manti in the Class 3A title game in Ogden.

And Mark and Max have done their part to help the team get this close to glory. Mark, a 5-foot-10 senior team captain, roams the defensive backfield as a hard-hitting cornerback and running back. Max, a 6-foot, 200-pound junior fullback and linebacker, tries to out-hit his big brother, but he's often seen carrying defenders on his back.

They're brothers. They're simultaneously similar and they're miles-apart different.

"I'd love to see them play checkers," Judge coach James Cordova said. "Everything they do is a competition. But at the end of the day, they're brothers and they watch each other's back and they take care of one another."

In the Bulldogs' 49-20 win over Manti on Oct. 16, Max's excitement over a big hit delivered by Mark near the pylon — one that prevented a touchdown — drew a flag for excessive celebration ... on Max.

"I remember I got so jacked up after the hit I was jumping up and down and yelling for him," Max said.

To Mark, he sees Max as a player full of potential.

Now as a team captain, just like Jack was, he no longer can afford to be totally free-spirited on the field, adding that he tries his hardest to avoid trash talk after big plays and big hits.

"As a junior, Max can bring different stuff to the team than I need to as a senior captain," Mark said. "I've got to be a leader at some point. I learned from Jack, and Max will learn from me when he's a captain next year."

Leadership aspects aside, the Barnett boys have had immeasurable impacts on the field this season as well as in the box score. Mark has rushed for six touchdowns, while Max has rushed for seven. Max leads the Bulldogs in total tackles with 84, including eight tackles for loss, along with two interceptions.

"They're very different athletes, but they're both dynamic in their own way," Cordova said. "They both bring a lot to the table in what they do on both sides of the ball."

Being so close in age, Mark said Max has been nipping at his heels for as long as he can remember. For Max, it doesn't matter who he's facing, the innate intensity always is there.

"I approach football the same way and have my entire life ever since I was in little league," he said.

And they have a familiar face who scouts their team every week.

Jack sends each brother a text wishing them luck before every game. Once the next week rolls around, he watches film and critiques his younger brothers on what they can improve on.

But that hasn't stopped Mark from jawing a bit with the oldest brother, adding that his senior class controls its destiny for a title. The chance to win a title is everything, Mark said, but he's already intrigued by next year's Bulldogs, a team that will feature Max and Alex, who will be a sophomore in 2014.

"We'll see what they can do next year," Mark said, "but it's just all about us right now."

ckamrani@sltrib.comTwitter: @chriskamrani —

Playoff schedule

Class 5A

State semifinals

Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium

2:30 p.m. • Brighton vs. Jordan

6:30 p.m. • Lone Peak vs. Bingham

Class 4A

State semifinals

Thursday at Rice-Eccles Stadium

2:30 p.m. • Olympus vs. East

6:30 p.m. • Woods Cross vs. Timpview

Class 3AA

State semifinals

At Rice-Eccles Stadium

11 a.m. Thursday • Juan Diego vs. Pine View

11 a.m. Friday • Desert Hills vs. Dixie

Class 3A

State title game

Saturday at Weber State

11 a.m. • Judge vs. Manti

Class 2A

State title game

Saturday at Weber State

4 p.m. • Grand County vs. South Summit

Class 1A

State title game

Saturday at Weber State

1:30 p.m. • Duchesne vs. Rich