Barry St. John has held on to a well-known saying for most of his life.
"Size doesn't matter." he says with a grin.
St. John said he's heard it most of his life. When he tells people he's the starting fullback for the Harlem Bulldogs, he knows what type of response to expect.
"People always say I'm too small to be a fullback."
Because he weighs 165 pounds, most coaches would agree.
When St. John went to Harlem High School football bead coach Jimmie Lewis two years ago as a freshman, Lewis said, he knew that big things sometimes come in small packages.
"He's only about 160, but he plays like he's 190," Lewis said. "He's just a tough, hard-nosed football player."
Despite his stature, the junior starting fullback has taken big strides since his freshman days.
"Barry's grown up a lot," teammate Gabe Greer said. "He's a workhorse. He works hard in the weight room."
Any further doubt of St. John's ability was swept away earlier this season in Harlem's 49-18 thumping of the Academy of Richmond County. St. John rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
"Barry was in the zone that day," Greer said.
It's been that type of year for the young fullback. In the Bulldogs' 10 games this season, St. John has rushed for 711 yards on 117 carries. His 6.8 yards-per-carry average leads the team, and his seven rushing touchdowns are second most.
In last weekend's 42-7 win over Hephzibah, St. John rushed for another two touchdowns and 122 yards on 18 carries.
He has even bigger plans for his senior season next year, literally.
"I've gained 15 pounds since last year, and I'm hoping to get up to about 185-190," he said.
Although Harlem's season ended last weekend only one game short of the playoffs, the team's future looks promising. The Bulldogs hope to improve on their first winning season (6-4) in four years and will lose only six seniors to graduation. In the meantime, coach Lewis is expecting a focused offseason to boost a host of returning Harlem talent.
St. John said the key to the Bulldogs' success, like his, doesn't depend on size.
"You don't have to be big," he said. "It just takes heart. You really have to love the game."
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