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County trio set to compete in 52nd football all-star game

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Barajas
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Scott Hunt /shunt@chronicle-tribune.comALL STARS: Marion’s Justin Johnson is one of three recent graduates from Grant County high schools that will play in the IFCA North/South All Star game Friday at North Central High School in Indianapolis. Andrew from Eastbrook and Cade McCoin from Mississinewa will join Johnson on the North roster. The game kicks off at 7 p.m.
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ALL STARS: Marion’s Justin Johnson is one of three recent graduates from Grant County high schools that will play in the IFCA North/South All Star game Friday at North Central High School in Indianapolis. Andrew Barajas from Eastbrook and Cade McCoin from Mississinewa will join Johnson on the North roster. The game kicks off at 7 p.m.

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

There are few individual honors in Indiana high school football that match being selected to compete in the Indiana Football Coaches Association’s North-South All Star game.

When the 52nd edition of the annual summer classic kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday at North Central High School, Indianapolis, Grant County will be well represented amongst the state’s best recently graduated players.

Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for students.

And the three athletes that will represent county football bring a wealth of versatility to the North squad.

Eastbrook’s Andrew Barajas, Marion’s Justin Johnson and Mississinewa’s Cade McCoin are all part of the North’s 46-man roster and though each of the three stars were two-way starters for their respective high school teams during their careers, they’ll play on just one side of the football Friday evening.

Johnson is the lone Grant County graduate that will continue his football career at the collegiate level, having recently signed his letter of intent as part of the second recruiting class for Indiana Wesleyan’s program that will begin competition on Sept. 1.

In his role as quarterback for the Giants last season, Johnson rushed for more than 1,100 yards, scored 14 touchdowns and was a threat to score anytime he took off out of the backfield. He also threw for more than 1,000 yards and connected for 13 more scores as a dynamic dual threat QB.

But when Johnson steps on the field for IWU and coach Jordan Langs for the start of Wildcats training camp in early August, he’ll do so as a defensive back, which he also played for the Giants. And Johnson will do his best to lock down the South’s talented receiving corp. He had 23 tackles, two interceptions and recovered a fumble for the Giants last fall and opposing quarterbacks rarely looked his way.

McCoin will continue his athletic career in college as well, it just won’t be on the football field. The two-time reigning Chronicle-Tribune baseball player of the year signed to continue his hardball career at Indiana Tech in the fall.

While he was best known as the Indians’ quarterback, he was equally important to Ole Miss coach Curt Funk’s defense, and he’ll join Johnson in trying to stop the South offense from either a strong safety or outside linebacker position. 

McCoin threw for more than 5,000 yards in his career, 2,154 yards and 26 touchdowns coming in his senior season. He also rushed for 13 more touchdowns in leading Mississinewa to its first sectional championship since 1988. Defensively, McCoin led the Indians with 31 solo tackles and was fourth on the team in total tackles with 75. McCoin also had six tackles for loss which was second for Ole Miss last season.

Like Johnson and McCoin, Barajas had major impact on both sides of the line of scrimmage for Eastbrook coach Jeff Adamson and the Panthers regional champions last season.

Barajas’ play as a safety in Eastbrook’s defense earned him selection to the IFCA’s top 50 list as a defensive back and he was one of only six Class A or 2A players to receive that honor last fall. 

But it was Barajas skills as running back and kick returner that landed him one of the four running back spots on the North squad. 

Barajas rushed for over 1,700 yards on just 108 carries — nearly 16 yards each time he touched the football — for Eastbrook in 2017. His 27 rushing touchdowns equated to one score on every four carries. He added four catches for 115 yards and two scores in the passing game and amassed more than 700 yards and three TDs on kick and punt returns.

The North-South game likely will be Barajas’ last time in pads as he plans to just be a student at Ball State University.