Barber's streak of covering Van games ends at 443 – Longview News-Journal

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A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible early. Partly cloudy skies. Low around 75F. Winds light and variable.
Updated: September 1, 2021 @ 9:12 am
Van High School principal Jeff Hutchins, right, presents David Barber a plaque for 400 consecutive games on Sept. 22, 2017.

Van High School principal Jeff Hutchins, right, presents David Barber a plaque for 400 consecutive games on Sept. 22, 2017.
One of the most famous streaks in sports is Cal Ripken Jr.’s 2,632 consecutive Major League Baseball games played. It’s a record that nobody is ever likely to come close to surpassing.
In Van, there’s a streak that also appears to be untouchable, even after coming to an end on Friday night.
David Barber, a 1977 graduate of Van High School, covered 443 consecutive Van football games. But after Barber tested positive for COVID-19, he was unable to attend the Vandals’ 2021 season opener at Palestine — a 45-16 win by the Vandals.
“It ain’t Cal Ripken, but it’s pretty freakin’ impressive,” Van head coach Jared Moffatt said.
Moffatt got to Van in 2010, and he said every Friday night, Barber is right there on the sideline.
Moffatt said he tried to think of every possible way to get Barber to Friday’s game to keep the streak alive.
“It’s a really impressive deal,” Moffatt said. “That many games, so many things can come up that make you miss a game. He loves his job, and he loves writing about Van football.”
While Barber was a senior at North Texas State University, the general manager at KMOO radio station in Mineola contacted him about broadcasting games.
“What I did back then, games were broadcast on tape delay on Saturday morning,” Barber said. “I took my tape recorder to the game and did play-by-play, and then they played that tape on Saturday mornings.”
That was Barber’s lone year on the radio as he went to work for Van Zandt Newspapers in Canton. Barber began covering Van football games for the newspaper in 1982.
“And I have ever since,” Barber said. “Until last Friday night, I had done 443 consecutive Van football games. To be honest, I was hoping to get to 450 this season.
“I thoroughly enjoy covering games. To me, there is nothing like experiencing a Friday night football game and the entire atmosphere involved.”
Ronald Reagan was the president the last time Barber missed a Van football game.
Barber said he listened to other games on local radio stations from his home on Friday night and was depending on other people to give him scoring updates from Van’s game.
Like he does every Monday, Barber called Moffatt to get his take on Friday’s game, along with previewing the Vandals’ upcoming game. Van will host Class 3A Division I No. 7 Malakoff at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Van Memorial Stadium.
“My approach now is hopefully I will get back in action soon and start a new streak,” Barber said.
Barber had another COVID test on Monday, so depending on the results, he could be back on the sidelines this week.
Barber said he kept stats for head coach Mal Fowler’s Vandals when he was in high school.
“Interestingly enough, the stat sheets I use today are the same ones I used for Coach Fowler when I was a high school student,” Barber said.
When Van won a state title in 1979, Barber was a college student and wasn’t able to attend games all season, but said he did attend all of the playoff games and was cheering the Vandals on from the stands.
Barber said he has several great memories of covering Van football, but some notable ones from recent years are the Vandals’ run to the state quarterfinals in 2016, the Vandals recovering four onside kicks in one quarter in a 2020 playoff game against Caddo Mills and getting run over on the sideline in 2019.
“We ran an out route on the sideline, and a kid caught it out of bounds and smoked him,” Moffatt said. “Mr. Barber went down hard.”
“I never saw the film, but Coach Moffatt said I need to,” Barber said. “I didn’t miss a play, though. I got back up. I felt it the next day, though.”
While the streak may be over, Barber’s love for Van football will never end.
“I’ve told people before, if you cut my arm, I will not bleed red, but I will bleed Vandal Red,” Barber said.
 

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