During the 1971 high school football season, Bridgeport High School junior Barry Myers found himself spending the majority of the time on the sidelines watching the action as opposed to participating in it for the 9-1 squad that missed the Class AAA playoffs back when the postseason field didn’t consist of 16 teams. Although Myers was a lineman, his 175 pound frame that year and a pretty good group in front of him kept him in reserve status in ’71.
When Myers’ senior season came around, things had changed. He had grown, not significantly, but noticeably. And any ideas that Myers would find himself facing reserve status once again went by the wayside.
Myers not only went from second string to starter, but he went from backup lineman on the Indians to the best lineman in the state of West Virginia. By the end of the 1972 season, Barry Myers not only played a huge part in leading Bridgeport to a 12-0 season and a Class AAA state championship, he captured the Hunt Award, for the state’s top lineman. It was the first time in BHS history – Garrett Stanley turned the trick in 2011 – that an Indian captured the honor.
According to Steve Stout, who lined up behind Myers in the backfield on offense and in the defensive backfield on the other side of the ball, Myers was more than worthy of the honor. In fact, he said Myers was a difference maker on one of the greatest teams in Bridgeport football history.
“With Barry, you never had to worry about his side of the line or the man he went up against. He was just so dependable,” said Stout, the standout tailback on the BHS team that won it all in ’72. “If they handed the ball to me I always liked the idea that I’m over on his side and almost certainly going to run through a gaping hole that he created. Barry just never gave up on a play.”
Wayne Jamison, who was still in his green stage as a coach during the 1972 campaign, echoed a lot of what Stout said about the talented Myers.
“I remember Barry just being outstanding in a group where all of the guys were decent linemen,” Jamison said. “We used shoulder blocking at that time, which is a lot different than how you’re allowed to block today using your hands. There’s a lot more difficulty doing things with your shoulder and Barry was one of the best.
“Barry was one of those guys that would throw a block and keep playing,” Jamison continued. “If he got blocked and fell down he wouldn’t stay down. He got up and went after it until the play was over.”
As impressed as Jamison was with his technique and tenacity as an offensive lineman, he quickly points out that it was Myers’ play on the defensive side of the football during the 1972 season that helped secure the Hunt Award. He said he was all over the place against two teams considered superior in size and skill in the playoffs.
“In that title game vs. DuPont he was all over the field. He got noticed there because everyone watching realized that this was a kid that just never gave up when he was playing at tackle,” Jamison said. “Wherever the ball was in that title game, he was right there with it. Barry was just an outstanding defensive football player and helped set the tone that year defensively.”
As it turned out, it was an impressive tone. Bridgeport actually opened up the 1972 season with five consecutive shutouts. The team would add two more before getting an 18-15 win against Saint Albans in the Class AAA semifinals and a 16-14 victory in the title game against DuPont.
“Both DuPont and St. Albans had size on him; and a lot of size on him,” an analyst with the 40 for 40 selection process said. “He came in around 200 pounds his senior season and the Nuzum kid from DuPont was at 260. Barry Myers didn’t miss a beat against him or St. Albans. He just pounded away the entire game.”
According to Stout, Myers was surprisingly unemotional when it came to his on-the-field play. And Stout said Myers was often the victim of less than cordial encounters from his opponents.
“I don’t ever hear him complain and, even though people played dirty against each other a lot, everyone played dirty against Barry,” Stout said. “People would do things and say things to him and Barry was one of those guys that did his talking when the ball was snapped.”
What Myers said with his play turned out to be more than enough. And according to one person, Myers may have been the one player on the team that could not be replaced.
“There was a player that, with the exception of Stout, was the key player on that team. He anchored both sides of the ball after not starting as a junior. To me, that’s amazing because he anchored the lines at such a high level,” the analyst said. “If Barry goes down that year,
they have trouble. They were very limited on lineman. They had no backups so that team was very fortunate he stayed healthy. They were also fortunate that he matured physically from his junior year to his senior year.”
Not only did his weight increase to 200 pounds, but Myers also sprang up to 6’2. There was added muscle along with the other physical increases. Add to that a mean streak on the field and you have a lineman who is arguably among the best ever at Bridgeport High School.
“He was quite an unassuming young man off the field, but put that helmet on him and there was the change. That helped him because he was not super quick, but he was really intelligent,” the analyst said. “He had a nasty streak and did the work on both sides of the line of scrimmage. The one thing you could count on that year was that when they needed a big play, they would run with Stout and when they did, they ran behind Myers.”
Sadly, Myers is the only member of the 40 for 40 unit that is deceased. Stout said he died several years ago, but wasn’t sure of what lead to his early death. One BHS staffer who knows the family said it was Parkinson's Disease.
“Barry was a great football player and a great teammate. I’ll always remember him,” Stout said.
Myers earned Class AAA All State First Team honors as a tackle on defense his senior season.
Editor's Note: Top photo shows Barry Myers receving the Ricky Smith award as he is joined by his mother. The award was given in honor of Smith, a BHS student who had passed away, and the player that best exemplified his traits. Second photo shows Myers in the all-Harrison County First Team defensive unit photo. Pictured are, front row from left, Tim Manchin, Myers, Dan Feaster, Joe Rymasz, and Bernie Marshall. Second row, from left, Jim Abruzzino, Steve Burkett, and Rick Stout. Back row, from left, is Danny Hammond, Melvin Lockett, and Doug Harbert. Third picture is the Class AAA All State defenisve unit that includes Myers top right and teammate Steve Stout bottom left. Fourth photo shows Myers not giving up as the whistle apparently hasn't blown. Bottom photo shows Myers, far left, with Coach Wayne Jamison and teammates on the field accepting their state championship trophy.
Click here to read the blog explaining the selection process.
Links for 40 through 9 selections HERE.