Football: Matt Barry back in the game for Oak Forest
By Pat Disabato firstname.lastname@example.org September 10, 2013 10:18PM
Matt Barry, of Oak Forest | File photo
Updated: October 12, 2013 6:15AM
The pain Matt Barry suffered from tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Sept. 21, 2012, was nothing compared with the anguish he endured helplessly sitting on the sideline watching his team compete.
“That was the hardest part of it all,” said Barry, a senior at Oak Forest. “Sitting and watching was so hard — especially watching us lose to one team.”
That one team was Lemont. The Indians twice defeated the Bengals: 17-14 in Week 3 and 21-14 in the Class 6A quarterfinals.
The reality, though, is that Oak Forest absorbed three defeats to Lemont. It was during that Week 3 loss to the Indians when Barry suffered the ACL injury that ended his season.
“When I got tackled, I got up and started jogging back to the huddle,” said Barry, recalling the sequence of the season-ending injury. “My knee didn’t feel normal, but I wasn’t in a lot of pain. I thought it was just a bruise. I stayed in the next play and got the ball and I got hit again in the knee, and that’s when they think I tore the ACL.
“I came out of the game and iced my knee till the half. The school doctor told me I completely tore my ACL.”
What was Barry’s reaction?
“I asked if I could finish the game and the season,” he said.
When informed his season was over, reality set in. Barry’s emotions took over.
“I started to tear up,” Barry said. “I was pretty emotional.”
Bengals fans remain adamant that if the 6-foot, 225-pound Barry had played against Lemont, the outcome both times would have favored Oak Forest, which finished 10-2.
The Bengals’ double-wing offense heavily relies on the fullback, the position Barry at which has starred since his freshman year. He was on his way to his third consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season when the devastating injury occurred.
Barry had surgery Oct. 24 to repair the knee. All went well, including a rigorous rehabilitation. Barry said the knee “is almost back to full speed.”
He gained 102 yards and scored two touchdowns during the Bengals’ 40-0 season-opening win over Phoenix and added 64 yards on 13 carries during a stunning 27-14 Week 2 loss to Brooks.
“Too many penalties,” Barry said of the Brooks loss. “We’ll learn from it.”
Barry speaks from experience. He’s been a member of the varsity since the first day he walked into Oak Forest. It’s a noteworthy distinction, but it can be a difficult one. Imagine being the senior who lost his position to a freshman.
“There were some who did and some who didn’t accept me as a freshman on the team,” said Barry, a Hille Middle School grad. “I just kept my mouth shut and listened.”
He’ll do the same when colleges make a pitch to recruit him. Whether it’s Division I or NAIA, Barry just wants to play.
“Most kids don’t even get an opportunity to play college football,” he said. “I’m open to playing anywhere.”