St. Barnabas recently won the CYO football championship made up of twenty-nine 7th and 8th graders from St. Barnabas, St. Rita, and St. Joan of Arc. They also are the only 2023 team that is undefeated in the 7th-8th grade level within the Greater Cleveland CYO area, spanning Avon Lake to Chardon and South to Akron. The team finished the season with a perfect 9-0 record. This was the third time in the past sixty years that the 7th and 8th graders have won the CYO championship in the history of St. Barnabas having a team. David Priebe, the team’s head coach, has been coaching at St. Barnabas since 2012, but his coaching background spans to early 2008. In 2008 he started his football coaching career with Nordonia Twinsburg Youth Football League, as his two daughters became interested in cheerleading.
The Blazers won a hard-fought victory against Holy Family (Stow) 21-20 for the final championship game. Trailing in the fourth quarter, the team pulled together a drive that tied the game. A successful conversion gave the team the lead. Coach Priebe credits his defense as Holy Family got the ball back with several minutes remaining in the game. The defense made a key 4th down stop, got the ball back, and got them into victory formation. He adds, “I was so impressed with our team’s ability to overcome adversity, specifically in the championship game. I can’t say how truly impressed I was with the effort and determination our players gave this season. I was very proud of them as they put the team in front of any of their personal goals or aspirations. They understood that football is a team sport where players depend on one another to accomplish their specific assignment/role.”
Coach Priebe wants to thank all the great families, players, athletic association leaders and assistant coaches. Assistant coaches included: Justin Walter, Chris Dillon, Alan Blauch, Chad Gunerra, Chris McFarland, Darrell Allen, Warren Johanson and Mike Fleming. Priebe says, “A truly great group of coaches that love the game of football and more importantly developing these young men and he is grateful to work alongside”. The team was also supported each week by great cheerleaders coached by Miss Lizzy Miller. These young ladies supported the team, rain or shine, according to Priebe. Father James Kulway, a big proponent of the athletic program led the team in prayer, while attending several football games this season. Fr. James is also an avid runner and has helped coach the St. Barnabas cross country and track teams.
The St. Barnabas 7th-8th grade CYO football team earned a championship win for the third time in the history of the program. Many people offered their support to the team during the regular football season, as well as during the championship. Coach Priebe affirms, “Many of the boys were strangers at the start of the season, but came together, bonded and formed lifelong friendships.” Congratulations to the team.