Tanner Barcus, a star wide receiver for the Parsons Vikings, was among the 2021 Kansas Shrine Bowl selections.

“Tanner is a very special player and is absolutely deserving of this honor,” Parsons head coach Jeff Schibi said. “He’s the type of kid and player that every coach would dream of having on their team. With it being my first year as a head coach, I relied heavily on his leadership and his ability.”

“It felt very rewarding but it still came as a surprise,” Barcus said. “When I heard my name, it was exciting.” 

Barcus, a senior, hauled in 75 catches for 1,032 yard and 13 touchdowns for the Vikings in the fall. He ranked fourth in Kansas and 153rd in the nation in receiving according to Maxpreps. 

“We’ve had so many playmakers the last couple of years that Tanner was kind of in the shadows,” Schibi said. “We always knew he had the ability. Once it became his time to shine, we all saw that ability. All along, we knew Tanner Barcus was capable of doing what he did this year.” 

Barcus said he took it upon himself to emerge from the pack in his last campaign.

“I knew the whole offseason that we would need to take an extra step,” Barcus said. “I wanted to be the guy that’s part of that. It came from all my teammates and coaches contributing. Being a senior, I knew I had to be a leader.” 

Barcus’ selection marks the second year in a row a player from Parsons earned a Shrine Bowl nod after Dariq Williams was selected in 2020. Williams didn’t play in the game due to injury.

“It’s a testament to Coach (Kurt) Friess and the job he did prior to me taking over,” Schibi said. “I just took the reins from him. It’s a culture he established and he deserves a lot of credit for those two kids making it to where they are.” 

While Parsons has proven capable of producing stellar talent individually, the Vikings have largely struggled on the gridiron over the last decade. With the exception of a 2018 campaign that saw Parsons go 8-3 and win two playoff games, the Vikings haven’t won more than three games since 2011. 

“It gives something for the kids to take pride in,” Schibi said of Barcus’ Shrine Bowl selection. “The kids can work towards that. As far as our record the last two years with a Shrine Bowl player, it goes to show that we need to get better upfront offensively and defensively.” 

Barcus believes the two Shrine Bowl nods Parsons has garnered points to a brighter future for the program.

“It says a lot about our program in how it’s being rebuilt,” Barcus said. “We’re setting a great foundation that can be built upon. It’s a great opportunity to show the talent that Parsons does have. We can go from there.” 

Other Southeast Kansas area selections to the Shrine Bowl include Darell Jones (Coffeyville), Caleb Murillo (Columbus) and Dee Wideman (Girard).

Barcus currently plans to attend the University of Kansas to study computer science, although he’s open to college football offers.

“I’ve opened it up more and considering it,” Barcus said. “I’ll probably have to make a decision soon, but I’m seeing what offers come in.” 

The 2021 Kansas Shrine Bowl is slated for June 26 at Gowans Stadium in Hutchinson.

The 2020 Shrine Bowl was the first organized football game in Kansas and the third in the country to be held amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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