Nick Barrientos knows that when it comes to his football endeavors, he’s got two groups of people he can’t let down.
One is La Puente High School’s football team and the other is his family, which is steeped in a football tradition of its own.
Try to keep up: Nick Barrientos is the youngest son of Jose Barrientos, who played football at Rosemead and graduated in 1984 … and wants it known that he wasn’t as good as his four sons.
Nick has three brothers: Steven (Class of 2009 at La Puente), James (’06 at La Puente) and Jose (’04 at Wilson).
Wilson fans may remember Jose Jr. for the game-saving tackle he made on a trick 2-point conversion at the end of the game to preserve a 28-27 victory over Villa Park in the 2003 playoffs.
Nick Barrientos is a major reason why La Puente is 3-0 and some people are thinking the Warriors may knock off Azusa in the Montview League.
The senior has rushed for 413 yards rushing, six touchdowns and has been the driving force behind the Warriors averaging nearly 40 points per game.
“He does a lot for us,” La Puente coach Brandon Rohrer said. “A lot of our offense does go through him. I can put him out in space or in the backfield. He’s a big part of our success.”
Family pride is a big motivator for Barrientos, who doesn’t want to disappoint the lineage of good players in the household. Not to worry, though, his brothers won’t let that happen. They’ve started a speed-training camp to help their brother Nick and other Warriors football players get better. For Nick, that meant spending every morning this summer working out at La Puente Little League park.
“They told me I have to live up to the family name because all my brothers were good and even my dad was good,” Barrientos said. “They all played tailback and they want me to be better than what they were.”
Barrientos’ play has helped the Warriors gain confidence with each passing and each gathered win. The Warriors’ latest victim was neighboring Wilson. In that game, Barrientos not only shined on offense, but he also made his presence felt on defense and special teams.
Defense has never been an issue for Barrientos, who started last season as a defensive back before dislocating his elbow. When he returned, he was handed the running back job and hasn’t looked back.
“They expected me to be good, but I don’t think they expected me to be this good,” Barrientos said of Rohrer and the Warriors coaching staff.
“I didn’t expect to be this good, to be honest. I was pretty nervous at first because I had to do better than my brothers. I trained for it the whole summer, so it’s come pretty easy.”
La Puente has enjoyed a resurgence under Rohrer. Including this year’s victories, Rohrer is now 19-6 at a school that before his arrival had seen quite a bit of coaching turnover and subsequent lack of success on the field.
With nonleague play now completed, the Warriors have their sights set on Azusa and the Montview League. La Puente figures to be favored in every game until the Azusa showdown in Week 10. Should the Warriors enter that game 9-0, they would likely be playing for a league title and possible No. 1 seed in the Mid-Valley Division playoffs.
Don’t think for a second that teachers and students around campus aren’t taking notice of what might be the best season at La Puente in recent history. Barrientos and his teammates are starting to feel it.
“Something’s happening,” Barrientos said. “The teachers congratulate me because they’ve read about me in the paper. I can see that fans want to come out more because they can see that we’re good now.
“It’s exciting for us because we’re actually 3-0. It feels pretty great. Some people doubted us. We’ve proved them wrong.”
As for Barrientos’ biggest critics – his family – here’s an ongoing push to make sure baby brother does even better than he already has.
That’s meant staying after practice working on speed drills with his brothers in hopes of making an already impressive season that much better.
“There’s a lot of pressure because I’m the last one. They don’t want me to (fail), so I’m doing the best I can.”
So far, so good.
Follow me on Twitter @ChemicalAT