BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
Navy senior punter Alex Barta’s skills were recognized as he was named one of the candidates for the Ray Guy Award by the Augusta Sports Council.
“I was a little surprised based on how much we don’t punt here,” said Barta, a 2012 Clarkston High School graduate, to being named for the award which honors the college punter of the year.
“It’s hard to get the award because you have to qualify with a certain amount of punts so it was a little surprising at first,” he added. “After it hit me it was exciting. All the people who helped me on the punting team including my snapper was a part of it as well.”
He said being named candidate means a lot to him.
“It shows the hard work and dedication I have been putting in since I left Clarkston is finally starting to pay off,” he added.
As of last Saturday, Nov. 12, Barta was averaging 42.4 yards per punt on his 12 punts and had a long punt of 55 yards.
The Navy Midshipmen currently has a overall record of 7-2 following their 42-40 win over Tulsa on Saturday. With the win Navy represents the West Division in the American Athletic Conference.
Barta added out of the wins this season beating Houston, 46-40, and Notre Dame, 28-27, are a few highlights of his senior year.
“Big team wins are the highlights because the season has been plagued by injuries,” he explained. “Us coming out showing who we are for Navy Football has been awesome, that we can take some teams down some polls have us losing to every week. Just showing we can beat whoever we play every week has been awesome. It’s one of the highlights of our season so far is taking down teams who we normally should lose to but we come out and beat them.”
Barta was a punter and kicker for Clarkston Varsity Football, which he added head coach Kurt Richardson was his biggest influence at Navy.
“He coaches is very similar to how (Ken) Niumatalolo coaches out here – just bring your lunch pal to work every day, don’t talk about anything you have done and just keep focus on the goal ahead,” Barta said. “We take it week by week like Clarkston does. Every opponent is equally as hard as the next. We can’t overthink anyone and can’t underthink anyone.”
Barta not only played for the Clarkston program but the Clarkston Chiefs when he was in elementary school.
“The coaches in the program are awesome,” he said, remembering his experience. “There’s nothing better than it, I would say in southeastern Michigan. The program helps you to be a good varsity football player.”
His advice to current Chiefs players and aspiring athletes is to stay the course.
“Trust the coaches and the process they have there because it works,” Barta said, adding Clarkston has had plenty of players move on to Division 1 colleges including David Beedle and Cole Chewins at Michigan State University and Shane Hynes at Kent State University.
The semifinalist list for the Ray Guy Award was announced on Friday which Barta did not make the list of ten, but he added it still meant a lot to be candidate.
“It has shown people outside the academy and people outside of Clarkston have noticed the hard work I have been putting in and have been waiting for an opportunity to show what I have on the field,” he said.
His parents are Donna and Guido Barta.