New man in charge

Barr takes over as Sheffield football coach

Submitted Photo New Sheffield football coach Mike Barr is pictured with his son, Colby.

Sheffield’s 2020 season lasted just one game before the program was paused and a co-op was established with Warren for the remainder of the year.

However, newly appointed head coach Mike Barr looks to take advantage of the break in action on Wolverine Mountain to create and mold a new-and-improved football team.

“We’re starting over from scratch realistically with what happened last year,” Barr said. “Nobody’s fault of their own. It happened, again the COVID world. We’re scratching out a new era of football because we had a year break. We’re coming back and it’s time to start writing those chapters for 2021.

Barr, a 1994 Sheffield graduate and football player himself, looks to bring back an old-school way of football.

He’ll look to establish a physical, hard-nosed attitude.

Barr intends to implement a run-first offense consisting of a lot of single-wing, counters and misdirection. Barr’s goal is to send a message that the Wolverines of 2021 will not lie down.

“That’s the driving factor right there,” Barr said. “The Bonavita is coming out in me, that this is something that needs to be done. There needs to be the pride. To me, the physicality. That’s what I want to see come back to Sheffield football. Being physical.”

A former Sheffield head coach, the late John Bonavita, with whom Barr coached under for junior high and varsity for 10 years, influenced the new Wolverines leader in many ways; from intensity to pride, creating a family atmosphere.

“It’s going to be about the team. It’s going to be about solidarity and family.

“Taking a page out of Bonavita’s book, I already have a meeting location for the coaches to meet on Sundays. Bonavita was a big advocate of that,” Barr added. “We all got together at his place on Sundays to game plan, to talk about the week prior and game-plan the week ahead so come Monday we hit the ground running.”

Mike Barr was fortunate to spend his years under Bonavita coaching alongside his father Ray Barr, a 1967 Sheffield graduate and player on the last undefeated varsity football team. Barr said that, besides his wife, his father was the first person he called to tell him he got the job.

“There’s a part of me that wants to do him proud.,” Barr said of his father. “Somebody made the statement about him back in the day that if you cut Ray Barr, he’d bleed orange and black. Just to be able to do dad proud and hopefully have him be able to come up and watch some games.”

Barr said one of the contributing factors in the decision to pursue the position was the very community in which his parents raised he and his brother. A community that he, too, raises his children.

“The community of Sheffield has always rallied and supported the kids and their sports programs,” Barr said. “The kids themselves, I feel there’s a good group of kids down here that are coming up through. I coached WCYFL (Warren County Youth Football League) for four years, and those kids are right now eighth-graders going into ninth grade. I know what was there. I just want to give them the opportunity to wear the orange and black and see what we can do.”


Barr held a meeting to introduce himself to players last Friday, when he said he had over 20 kids show up; this did not include some kids who were away at other sporting events at the time. Barr hopes that the long-looming questions pertaining to number of participants can be something that success can help to answer.

“A lot of that has to do with how successful you are,” Barr said. “Jordan (Copley) has done a phenomenal job with the basketball team and I see the morale that basketball players have.

Coach (Jack) Rice and coach (Tom) Holden with the wrestling program, and the numbers they have coming out because there’s been kids with success there. It’s time for football. I have no ill feelings about any of the past coaches. They’ve all given 100 percent of what they could give, and I’m just next up. I’m just the next guy in line to give that 100 percent and try to turn the train around.”

In 2020, the Sheffield/Abraxas co-op was suspended due to COVID-19, but Barr feels confident that the co-op will continue for the 2021 season. Barr knows Abraxas is ready to get the kids back, but in the COVID world it’s all in flux. He is approaching the 2021 season preparing to not have anyone but the Sheffield students, and considers a potential Abraxas co-op return as an added bonus.

Whether Sheffield or Sheffield and Abraxas, Barr has one simple mindset going into this new venture: “Win or lose, if we’re physical, that’s a step in the right direction and the other stuff will take care of itself.”


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