John Barnes is heading toward his 300th win tonight.
OK, there is a chance it won’t happen this evening, but the head coach of Los Alamitos High School football has a pretty good record – 33 years – of making victory happen.
At 7 p.m. at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium, Barnes & Co. will face Marina High School and Barnes, who spoke with Patch on the eve of the game, said it’s “going to be tough” because Marina won't want to be remembered as his 300th win.
Unfortunately for Marina -- or whichever school becomes Barnes' 300th takedown -- the loss will be remembered.
Barnes is already the winningest football coach in Orange County history, and with one more victory, he'll join just three other high school coaches in California history to reach the 300 milestone, according to the Los Alamitos Unified School District.
The 63-year-old said he’s of two minds on the issue: that people are making too much of a fuss … and that it really is significant.
“When it’s over and then I look back on it, then I think it’s going to be an awful big deal,” he said.
However, Barnes said, he’s trying focus more on the match itself, not its historical context.
“My first thought is ‘It’s our first league game,’ ” Barnes said. “It’s the team’s game and that’s what we focus on. We want to win this, so we can have a league title.”
Barnes started work with the school in 1979 and said he still wants to be on the field.
"I’m lucky," he said. "I’m in good health. I feel vibrant. I'm still passionate about the game. I love to go to practice."
A longtime Placentia resident, Barnes is married to his high school sweetheart, Anita, with whom he's raised three children -- Brian, Jimmy and Karen.
Aside from the many coaches and players he’s worked with over the years -- and all the victories -- Barne said his one of his fondest memories is coaching his own sons.
“I don’t know if they enjoyed it," Barne said. "I sure did.”
On what could be the the eve of a huge lifetime accomplishment, Barnes isn’t hogging the glory. He said it’s about his fellow coaches and the players.
“I’ve never played a game here, I’ve just coached,” Barnes said. “They’ve done all the hard work for me. They work their tail off. They don’t get credit. They have been so loyal and so good I could go on forever about them. “
If all the players and coaches he’s worked with over the years were gathered in a stadium and he had a microphone, he’d say one thing: “I love you, and thank you."
As for the game, he said, “I want to get it over with. They’ve [everyone] made such a big deal about it.”
Before the game tonight, feel free to check out our recent profiles of some of Barnes' players.
Quarterback Cody Marshall.
Defensive Line, Fullback Daniel Szechy
Corner James Stea
Left guard: Alex Redmond
Cornerback Tristan Otto