January 22, 2014 - Before the any offensive plays were made during the Clarkston Varsity Football 2013 state championship season - the ball had to be snapped back to the quarterback.
Griffin Barta during the home game against Lake Orion. Photo by John Azzopardi (click for larger version)
The snap came from senior center Griffin Barta,who had a completion rate of 100 percent and named the Unsung Hero during the Wolves' football banquet, Jan. 12.
"I was very grateful," he said about receiving the award. "Throughout the season a lot of us don't get that much recognition and winning the award just shows my hard work and dedication showed. I was acknowledged for it which was very nice."
"Griff has a great duality about him," said Brian Zezula, offensive/defensive line coach, who also coached Barta when he was in elementary school.
"He is a technician and wants to do everything perfect as a player to step the right way, uses his hands the right way, snap the perfect spirals back to the quarterback," Zezula contined. "But he is also very good because he does not want to let his friends down, his team down. He is a great friend and teammate to have. He would do everything he could to make sure he does his job to make sure his friends and his teammates can count on him and benefit from it. That's how he leads his life and that's how he plays the game. He has a lot of passion for the game."
He added Barta also did a lot of little things as well.
"After the first touchdown in the finals game he was the first one all the way from the center to celebrate in the endzone with Shane Holler," Zezula recalled. "He just sprinted there because he was so excited. He did like a little fist pump but in the air kind of like a wave."
Barta began playing football eight years ago when his parents signed him up when he was old enough. His older brother, Alex, was already playing the sport.
"He did help me out with the aspect of the football part," Griffin added. "He helped me with motivation to get up, do something and go work out."
Griffin added he became a center because he would be able to touch the football.
"I knew I wasn't going to be a running back or quarterback but I wanted to touch the ball and be part of the play every time," he said. "It pushed me to try to play that position."
He added playing center came natural to him because he has played the position since he was a child and due to the preparation during the season and in the pre-season.
"I like playing center because it was a lot of pressure and knowing everyone's assignment not only mine," Griffin said.
"Also, I like being able to touch the ball before every play started because most plays and most players don't get to touch the ball a whole lot let alone every play."
Griffin almost didn't play his final year in high school.
"He had a decision to make in the off season," Zezula said, sharing what most players think about going into their senior season - will they play a lot, should they get ready for college, and do they want to spend more time with their friends. "Or did he want to put everything he had into it and maybe win a state title, which has never happened before. He did that and it was a major reason for our success."
Griffin added one of the reasons he decided to continue was because he didn't want to stop in his senior year.
Another reason was he knew there was going to be something special with the 2013 varsity football team.
"We have been playing together since we were little kids," he said. "I didn't want to end it in the last year we could possibly be together."
He was right - the team finished the season defeating Detroit Catholic Central for the MHSAA Division 1 State Championship, 32-14.
"It feels good," he laughed when asked how it felt being right there was something special about this group of guys.
"It is a great sense of accomplishment because of how big the DCC situation was and how we handled it. It's very cool."
He will not be playing football in college. He plans on going to Central Michigan University where he will take courses focusing on pre-med as he focuses on a career as a physician's assistant.
He is currently taking Business Law, Pre-Calculus and Trigonometry,Psychology, Forensics Science and Weightlifting in his second trimester and ended last trimester with a 3.2 grade point average.
When Griffin and his friends weren't playing football or studying they would go fishing a few times a week when the weather was nicer.
Griffin's advice for aspiring athletes is to play as hard as they can.
"Don't leave anything behind because you don't want to regret it," he added. "Honestly I didn't regret much because how we did. Don't regret anything, put everything out there and try harder for everything you do."
His parents are Donna and Guido.
Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007. Follow Clarkston sports on Twitter @CNewsWRSports.