2008-09 Male Athlete of the Year goes to Federal Way's Andre Barrington

Federal Way High School senior Andre Barrington will play outside linebacker in the fall at Washington State University. Barrington also starred on the Eagle basketball and track and field teams.  - Casey Olson/The Mirror
Federal Way High School senior Andre Barrington will play outside linebacker in the fall at Washington State University. Barrington also starred on the Eagle basketball and track and field teams.
— image credit: Casey Olson/The Mirror

Andre Barrington’s senior year at Federal Way High School was something out of a storybook. Something the three-sport star could only dream of when he started his ultra-successful Eagle career four years ago.

“My senior year was pretty nice,” Barrington said with a laugh. “It was a lot of hard work paying off.”

Barrington cashed in the countless hours spent at thousands of practices into the Mirror’s 2008-09 Male Athlete of the Year, as well as a full-ride football scholarship to Washington State University.

And the senior wasn’t just a roster-filler. He dominated at everything he did.

“Everybody knows that he’s a fantastic athlete, but people don’t realize how cool of a kid he is,” Federal Way head football coach John Meagher said. “He’s easy going and has said that he wants to be a stand-up comedian when he grows up. He’s that funny and quick-witted and that stuff translates into a good leader. He gets all this attention and outside forces are always sort of looking at him. He’s always in the newspapers and on TV, but he’s still just silly Andre. He’s not too full of himself.”

Barrington’s senior year started by leading the Federal Way football team into the 16-team Class 4A state playoffs for the first time in 32 years, continued by earning all-tournament honors and helping the Eagles win the program’s first-ever state basketball championship, and culminated with a trip to the state track and field meet, where he finished third in the triple jump and sixth in the long jump.

Barrington’s sports juggling act will change in the fall when he enrolls at Washington State. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder is set to compete for an outside linebacker spot for the Cougars.

In an era of specialization, Barrington’s do-everything attitude is somewhat of an oddity in high school sports.

“I just always played three sports,” Barrington said. “Nobody ever tried to tell me not to play all three. I will miss basketball and track a lot. I’m not too excited about that. But it will be good for me to just focus on one. At the next level, you need to be in tip-top shape.”

Barrington was the definition of a big-time player, who was always at his best when the stakes were the highest. He loves everybody watching him and having his teammates and coaches counting on him to make something special happen. So it was no surprise that Barrington had his biggest games on the biggest stages.

On the football field, Barrington basically carried the Eagles into the state playoffs during a 24-19 preliminary-round victory over the Gig Harbor Tides on their home field. During the game, Barrington finished with a workmanlike 166 yards on 27 carries, scored the game-winning touchdown, threw a 46-yard TD pass and made tackle after tackle on the defensive side of the ball.

“He’s a gamer,” Meagher said. “He brings it when the game is on the line and that was evident in everything he did.”

On the basketball court, Barrington was at his best at the state tournament, especially during a semifinal win over Kentridge that propelled the Eagles into the title game. During Federal Way’s four victories inside the Tacoma Dome, Barrington averaged 15.5 points and was named to the All-Tournament Team.

Against Kentridge, Barrington poured in 22 points, 13 above his season average, on 8-of-10 shooting from the field. After leading only 25-22 at halftime, Barrington’s 10 points during a 15-2 Federal Way run to start the third quarter basically put the game away.

“I just went into the locker room and told everybody that this is our last chance to get to where we wanted to go,” Barrington said. “I let it be known that I didn’t want to lose and I did everything I could to make sure we didn’t.”

“Barrington absolutely killed us,” Kentridge coach Dave Jamison said after the game. “He’s so quick and so strong.”

And on the track, Barrington uncorked his personal bests in both the long jump (23 feet, 2 1/4 inches) and triple jump (47-2 3/4) during the postseason. Both jumps were two feet better than his previous career bests.

“It was because this year was my senior year and was my last experience in high school,” Barrington said. “I wanted to make the most of it and whatever happens, happens.”

Barrington is optimistic as to what will happen when he starts preseason training camp in Pullman later this summer.

“I know everything is going to change,” Barrington said. “It’s not high school. I’m just going to have to work harder and deal with it.”

But if his high school career on the football field is any indication, everything should work out just fine for Barrington.

During his three years as the Eagles’ starting tailback, Barrington eclipsed the 1,000-yard barrier all three seasons. As a senior, he ran for 1,169 yards and 13 touchdowns, despite missing Federal Way’s first two games because of an ankle injury.

On defense, Barrington was the Eagles’ leading tackler the last two seasons and will play on that side of the ball at Washington State as an outside linebacker.

“Andre is a good athlete,” said Washington State head coach Paul Wulff. “He is going to mature and as he matures he is going to develop and his frame is going to allow him to be a nice, big linebacker when it is all said and done. He is going to be a very good player as he grows into his position.”

Barrington is currently on a workout program designed specifically by the Washington State coaching staff with the goal of putting 20 more pounds of muscle on his body to withstand the pounding outside linebackers take during the Pac-10 season. It’s still up in the air whether or not Barrington will redshirt during his freshman season for the Cougars.

“I don’t really know what my goals will be next year,” Barrington said. “I know one of my goals is to gain weight, but I will make more goals when I get into camp. I’m excited for it.”

“I have a tough time believing that he won’t play as a freshman,” Meagher said. “He’s still got a lot of room to fill out and add 10 to 20 pounds of muscle.”

And nobody is about to bet against Barrington making some type of impact in the fall for the Cougars.

Being on the big-stage of Pac-10 football should bring out the best in Barrington, just like it did during his tenure at Federal Way High School.

“I will definitely remember my friends the most,” Barrington said. “All the guys that I played sports with. There was a lot of hard work paying off this year. We were all doing something that we worked so hard to accomplish.”

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