South Forsyth kicker Alex Barbir isn’t afraid to make fashion statements. He carries more than one pair of loud colored shoes in his equipment bag. He even has paid attention to the slightest details of his game day get up, including the color of the bottom of his cleats.
Barbir felt his team was a little behind with the latest aesthetic trends of the gridiron when he met some players from around the metro Atlanta area on Dec. 28 for the Elite Junior Classic. That event was where he met newly-minted Class A state champion Allen Cater, a defensive lineman from Mount Paran Christian in Marietta, who familiarized Barbir with his team’s 2014 uniform—blue jerseys, silver accents.
And winged sleeves.
Barbir couldn’t resist the idea of pitching the same uniform to South head coach Jeff Arnette. After all, South Forsyth had the same color scheme—blue and silver—and owned the nickname War Eagles, which made the copy-cat idea permissible.
After a few weeks of bugging coaches at practice, Barbir finally convinced the coaching staff to make a significant change to the War Eagles’ uniforms, transitioning from plain black jerseys with block numbers to a progressive, sleek look that would surely turn some heads.
“Coach Arnette might have been too strict at first with what we were allowed to get, but I said there wasn’t anything to lose to ask and see what he said,” Barbir said. “I dug into it with the coaches at practices over and over and after a little bit we were able to get pretty much the exact uniforms.”
Putting together a perfect high school football uniform can be an art. Unlike college athletic programs that can afford to order all sorts of helmets, jerseys and pants, high schools usually are so tight on budget that they can only change a home uniform or a road uniform at a time, rather than both.
“Next year we’re planning on getting an away version—a white version—of the new uniforms. They’re not cheap. Schools don’t have money growing on trees,” Barbir said.
South isn’t the only team rocking a new look this year. Lambert, which began wearing Nike’s “anthricate” jerseys at home last season, ordered new road jerseys this year. Lambert’s look, conversely, has transitioned from a lot of cherry red to shades of gray, following a nation-wide trend.
Lambert senior defensive lineman, Brad Whicher, said the seniors got to have direct input into the uniforms.
“We were in the coach’s office. They had a little custom thing up, and we pretty much customized it. They had it on the computer screen,” Whicher said. “I thought it was pretty nice. This is like what all the colleges wear.
“When we got these jerseys, we felt special.”
West Forsyth has made some changes too, electing to remove the green paint from its helmets and sticking to a solid, sparkling gold lid that emulates the famous look from Notre Dame. Forsyth Central has added a new logo to its helmets. Barbir says all of these changes are important to players around the county.
“A lot of players, when they feel ready to play, the mentality and the hype shows up more, I think. You want to feel good and uniforms can be a big part of that,” Barbir said. “A lot of schools will wear neon socks. This year I have some blue and gold cleats and the bottoms are chrome blue, so it sticks out when I’m running or kicking.”
Even with new looks coming into the fold, some players still add their own personal spin.
“One thing is, Grant Umburger, has the ugliest, most worn out sleeved shirt that he puts under his pads,” Barbir said. “He’s been wearing it since the sixth grade I think. It’s part of his personality though.”
THE FOOTBALL FASHION "EXPERTS"
Forsyth County News’ sports staff ranks each of the county’s high school football home uniforms on a purely subjective basis.
Michael Foster, Sports writer
1. South Forsyth: The winged shoulder design actually looks more appropriate than any version Oregon has thrown out there, and the awesome shade of blue is far superior to the black jerseys the War Eagles have worn in the past.
2. Pinecrest Academy: The color scheme is on point, and in a county where nearly everyone has worn black or something close to it, it’s nice to be reminded there’s a reason newspapers want to print in color.
3. Forsyth Central: Get up close enough to Central’s helmets, and you’ll notice silver flakes in the paint. That’s a cool attention to detail that works for high definition TV, but falls short when you’re watching from the stands.
4. West Forsyth: Whether intentional or accidental, the fact that West’s helmets shine gold during the day but also look a little green once the sun goes down is one of the cooler ways to show off its strange color scheme of blue, green and gold.
5. Lambert: Yawn. Blackish gray home uniforms. Now, blackish gray road uniforms. With Lambert’s beautiful deep-red helmets, you’d think they’d have the jerseys to match, but instead the Longhorns have elected to follow trend with nearly every other college football team in existence and wear gray.
6. North Forsyth: When your school color is purple, there’s no harm in going black from head to toe, but when it comes to the Raiders’ uniforms there’s some purple left to be had in some places.
Brian Paglia, Sports Editor
1. South Forsyth: I’m all in on this uniform. The blue of the jersey, the font of the numbers, the wings on the sleeves. Superb look.
2. Forsyth Central: I haven’t seen a meaner looking jersey in high school football. The all-black is punctuated just right by bright red numbers, and the new logo is a big improvement. One piece of advice: make the F in the FC logo white.
3. West Forsyth: No green! The jersey is a beautiful deep blue, even more so when juxtaposed against the Wolverines’ new gold helmets. And taking away the logo on the helmet was the right move too.
4. Pinecrest Academy: Now ADDING a logo to the helmet was just what the Paladins needed. Pinecrest uses its color scheme just right, but sources tell me there’s a special alternate uniform to be unveiled sometime this season.
5. Lambert: These were the talk of county uniforms last season, and for good reason, for no one had tred into dark gray yet. I don’t think its a good long-term look, but I love how the gray uniforms make the Longhorns’ bright red helmets pop.
6. North Forsyth: I, too, look at the Raiders’ uniform and feel some purple is missing. But it’s a sharp look nonetheless, particularly North’s unique NF logo on the helmet. Other schools should aspire to make their logos as original.