Nate King stands tall for Barrington

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GURNEE — Sophomore running back Nate King had already fumbled once when the Barrington football team lined up for a fourth-and-1 with four minutes to play against Warren Saturday.

The Broncos — who would go on to win 21-13 — were clinging to a 14-13 lead on the road, but they did not hesitate to give King the ball again.

“We never had any doubts about if we were going to continue giving him the ball,” Barrington coach Joe Sanchez said. “We had full faith in the offensive line and tight ends in there.”

Behind the blocking of his offensive line, King picked up 2 yards and the first down, helping Barrington advance to the Class 8A quarterfinals.

“It felt good knowing the guys believed I could get it,” King said. “The O-line created the holes — I have to thank them — and I was hungry. I was going to get that yard.”

King wasn’t Barrington’s starting running back at the beginning of the year, and he wasn’t the second or third option. Because of injuries and illness, King became the fourth different starting running back for the Broncos this season.

“I’m proud of his resiliency,” Sanchez said, “for him to stick with it and work hard and wait for his opportunity to come.”

Sanchez said the Broncos brought King up during the summer because they felt he could contribute to the varsity this season. It was late in the year before he was able to make his presence felt.

“Honestly, it was really tough going from as a freshman being that guy who had 25 carries a game to being on the scout team,” King said. “I just worked on putting in extra work after practice.”

Since Week 9, King has carried the load for Barrington, helping to balance an explosive vertical passing game. With Warren taking away deep shots down the field, Barrington handed the ball to King 30 times, and he piled up 132 yards to help Barrington control the clock.

That was especially key in the fourth quarter, where the Broncos held the ball for 6:30 on one drive.

“There was no doubt in my mind that he would come back and make big plays,” senior quarterback Daniel Kubiuk said of King.

King’s fumble came late in the second quarter with Barrington inside the Warren 5-yard line. Although Warren couldn’t capitalize and score before halftime, it took momentum away from the Broncos, who trailed 10-7 at the time.

“I hate fumbling,” King said. “But I knew I had to forget about the past and focus on the future.”

“We were disappointed in the play,” Sanchez said. “But it’s always about moving on to the next play.”

Despite carrying the ball 30 times, King only had one run that resulted in negative yardage. The 5-foot-4 running back’s lower center of gravity helped him continually gain positive yards.

“He’s very deceptive and elusive,” Sanchez said.

“When I get hit, I’m still balanced,” King said. “I love being able to hide behind the linemen.”

Because he is Barrington’s fourth running back and a sophomore who stands 5-4, King can be overlooked. He said he runs with a chip on his shoulder. It was true on that fourth-and-1 play Saturday.

“That [run], that was my chance to prove as a sophomore and at 5-4, I could do this,” King said.

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