A trip to Odessa for a football camp is all it took for Boonville senior Dawson Barnthouse to find his passion for football again.
Although Barnthouse had dedicated most of his life to baseball because of his grandpa, Mel Linhart, it wasn’t until his junior and senior year that the senior standout started feeling that he was missing something by not playing football.
Then, with some coaxing by Boonville Pirates football coach Greg Hough to come out and play, Barnthouse stepped into a starting role at guard on offense and never looked back.
While Barnthouse played only one year of football, he said it’s really where he got to prove himself athletically. “I started all 11 games on the offensive line and kind of got a chance to prove who I really was,” Barnthouse said.
As it turns out, Barnthouse will continue to be a part of the game as assistant manager on the Missouri Tigers football team.
Barnthouse will attend the University of Missouri in Columbia and major in sports management with a minor in business.
But for now, Barnthouse can reflect on his one season playing under the lights at Gene Reagan field. He said that is the one thing that he will miss about playing football at Boonville.
“I think the thing that I will miss the most about playing football is getting to go out there under those Friday Night Lights with the whole community behind us and the support system behind you,” Barnthouse said. “Another thing that I will miss is that it was a chance to go out there and prove who you really are and what you’re really all about.”
Barnthouse proved who he really was in at least two games this season. One was the season opener against Pleasant Hill and the other game was against Osage on Homecoming.
He said after watching film, the Pleasant Hill game was really the first time ever playing football since middle school.
“I did some things well probably for my first ever game,” Barnthouse said. “Osage just because it was a game, where I saw everything come together for myself and did most things right, and we came out with a win in the end. It was kind of a big week with Homecoming and I fought through all of that and just played my best game I thought personally.”
As for a career highlight, Barnthouse said even though it resulted in a loss the game at Odessa was probably one he will remember forever.
“That field is where I kind of found a love of the game at the end of my junior year when I would go up there all the time and watch them play and help them out,” Barnthouse said. “Everything came full circle at that moment.”
Of course Barnthouse hasn’t stopped played baseball. While spending a lot of his down time playing wiffle ball with his friends, Barnthouse said he’s been playing baseball probably as long as he could walk.
“‘It’s something that my grandpa had done forever and something instilled in me and something that my friends always were there for,” Barnthouse said. “I spent probably every single summer since I was 10 years old or even probably 5 years old at Harley park watching baseball. I guarantee you I could go out there right now and I would probably know more the game than anybody on the team this year just because I watched so much baseball. I may not be the best player but I think it’s something I just loved because the game itself was something that amazed me.”
While playing high school baseball for three years, Barnthouse said his best game came his junior season against Southern Boone, where he went 2-for-3 with a home run. He said it was against one of his buddies, Brian Ash.
As for his career highlight in baseball, Barnthouse said it was probably his sophomore year when Boonville beat then No. 2 Westminster in the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs. He said just being a part of that team and watching the community get behind them when they were down was really something to experience.
“I think just getting to be a part of the journey with them was also something I will remember because my brother, Dylan, Jared Viertel and Kole Ficken, those guys were probably one of my best friends so it was good to see them accomplish kind of the pinnacle of what they could.”
Barnthouse said he will miss playing baseball because it was something that he grew up on forever. “I will probably miss the guys and just the game and not getting really the chance to get out there and lace it up one more time,” he said. “It’s probably something I will miss the most because it’s something that I grew up on forever and it’s something that has always been there throughout the years.”
As for the reason he started playing golf, Barnthouse said even though baseball last so long you can golf forever. He said his roommates next year at Mizzou, Jake Horst and a good friend Brayden Page, were trying to get him to come out for golf and it seemed like he would have more fun with them. It was also a chance to kind of relax and try to find something new, he said.
Unfortunately for Barnthouse, he never got a chance to play in a meet as the season was canceled due to COVID-19.
“In golf, the only person you had to rely on was yourself and if you didn’t have a good day you didn’t have to worry about letting your teammates down,” Barnthouse said. “You just had to work on yourself. It was just more of a relaxed sport. It’s competitive but more relaxed, and of course you can golf forever.”
As for his career as a whole while playing sports at Boonville, Barnthouse said he’ll miss the relationships he got to build with his friends, playing the line in football and getting the chance to play the big game.
“I think it’s getting the chance to play in tight spots, where you have to dig yourself out, just really trying to find out who you are and who your team is about with your community behind you,” Barnthouse said. “I think the Oak Grove game at halftime, we were down by six points and I would say a quarter of the community probably left because they thought it was over. I think the people that stayed for that game are the ones that are going to help you be the best person that you can be.”
Looking back at the last four years, Barnthouse said if he had one regret it was probably not playing football all four years. He said he regrets really not playing his freshman and sophomore year under coach (Barry) Blank because that system was more of a true fit for his style of football, which was hard-nosed down hill instead of finesse game.
“Overall, I thought I had a good experience at BHS,” Barnthouse said. “There are some things and some people that I wish I would have done differently, but overall it is what it is and you kind of accept it for what it is, so you just have to move on in your life and try to make the best life possible.”
Although Barnthouse would love to come back and coach football some day at Boonville High School, he said he is prepared for the next step in his life.
“I’m really looking forward to being an assistant manager on the Mizzou football team,” Barnthouse said. “I will get to go to all the away games and get to experience the whole game day operations. It’s also a good way to get into coaching and just try to figure out what my career will be.”
While it was just one year of playing football, Barnthouse said running out under those Friday Night Lights for the first time at Pleasant Hill in Week 1 was something he will remember forever.
“I was telling the guys that I don’t think I have experienced anything like this in my life,” Barnthouse said. “It’s just something that if you have never experienced it, you will never truly understand.”