The Drill: Defensive guru Barber a key part of Worthington football


WORTHINGTON -- When Scott Barber was approached to do The Drill, he initially balked. But with a little prodding, he said he’d talk to his family about it.

Barber, longtime football defensive coordinator at Minnesota West Community and Technical College and later at Worthington High School, shuns the spotlight. Getting him to talk about himself is like attempting to get a cat to jump into a lake.

“He doesn’t even like when I talk about him,” says his Bluejays coaching friend, Jeff Linder.

Barber, obviously, prefers toiling in the shadows, letting his players get all the credit. But it’s because he’s been so successful -- and is so admired by those who’ve worked with him -- that he was a natural choice for a Drill interview and video.

While assisting with the Bluejays program for 20 years, Barber became a bulwark for Linder. The head coach calls him tremendously organized and well-prepared, a stickler for film-work. He always had a great scouting report ready, said Linder. It was clear that opposing teams didn’t like to face his defenses, who were typically difficult to adjust to.

“His players know what they need to do, and how they need to do it. And that’s half the battle,” Linder testified.

Barber grew up in Worthington and played for outstanding coaches Denny Hale in high school and Don Varpness at Minnesota West (formerly Worthington Community College). He loved defense as a player and has been defensive-minded ever since.

Now working under Worthington High School head coach Gene Lais, he declares himself a Trojan for life -- and a Bluejay for life. He tries to instill that same kind of devotion in his players.

Recently, The Globe jumped at the chance (before he could change his mind) to interview Barber for a Drill episode. You can see the video online at Here’s a brief sample of the interview session:

QUESTION: What is the key to the way you like to coach defense?

ANSWER: “Defense, you have to be emotional. We always want to work hard and out-work our opponents. Alignment-assignment-success, we always say. So if we know our alignment, we know our assignment, the effort will give us that success. … Funny, when you first start coaching, you kind of sit in that defense. And, of course, offenses were a lot simpler when you first started.”

QUESTION: Who are some of your coaching peers who made a big impact on you?

ANSWER: “I’ve had the luxury of having great coaches. Coach Hale, Coach Varpness, Coach (Ron) Vorwald. I had the opportunity to coach with some great people -- Coach Linder and Coach Lais on that. And then you have former players who come back.”

QUESTION: I’ve heard you become very passionate on the sidelines during games. Would you say you’re tough and hard-nosed?

ANSWER: “At the college I was probably more hard-nosed, tough. You kind of adjust based on the personnel that you have. You can be hard-nosed at the college on some kids, and you’ve got to grab ‘em by the shoulder and say everything’s going to be OK with other kids.”