PRINCETON, Ky. (KT) – The Caldwell County High School football team will begin their season on a somber note after losing their legendary coach and mentor this weekend.
David Barnes, Caldwell County’s athletic director and head football coach, passed away shortly before 8 on Saturday morning at the age of 59. Reports indicate Barnes began feeling ill during Friday night’s scrimmage at Hopkins County Central. Barnes had been previously diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2017.
As a graduate of Caldwell County and football star in his day, Barnes returned to his alma mater as head coach in 2006. In his 13 seasons since, he led the Tigers to 110 wins – just seven shy of the school record.
According to players, Barnes’ impact extended beyond the football field as well.
“He always cared about every player and always went the extra mile to try and put his players in the best position to be successful,” former Tigers quarterback Elijah Sindelar, who won Mr. Football under Barnes in 2014, wrote in a statement on Saturday afternoon. “It was an absolute honor to be able to play under a coach that I knew had my back on every play no matter what happened.
“He believed in me even during the times I didn’t believe in myself, but even more so, he trusted me, and that’s what made him such a good coach. He was always there for me not only as a player, but also as a man.”
After being honored as Kentucky’s Mr. Football, Sindelar went on to play as a quarterback for Purdue. He is currently entering his fifth season with the Boilermakers.
Even other coaches looked to Barnes as an example.
Christian County football coach Jeremy Collins reflected on Barnes’ life by saying, “As a young coach you try to find guys in the profession that do things the right way and that are respected by their peers. Guys you want to be like. David Barnes was one of those guys for me. One of the best in the business. Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.”
Barnes took Caldwell County to the Class 2A state championship game in 2012, losing to Newport Catholic 30-26. He was named the Class 2A Coach of the Year by the Courier Journal in 2014 when he led the Tigers to an 11-2 record and 50.8 points per game average.
He was the 2017 Class 3A Coach of the Year by the Kentucky Football Coaches Association following a 10-3 season and appearance in the regional championship game.
Barnes was 110-50 in 13 seasons as head coach of his alma mater and 171-126 overall in 26 years as a head coach.
Caldwell County opens the season Friday at home against Christian County with heavy hearts.