‘Dangerous’ senior running back leads Norwin’s quest for respect

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Monday, August 23, 2021 | 5:43 PM


Dom Barca appreciates variety in life.

He likes a good country song as much as he does an old-school hip-hop jam or some new age rap.

“All types,” he said. “I listen to everything.”

Kind of like his athletics career. He has tried them all.

The Norwin senior has dabbled in just about every sport as he’s made his way to the varsity level.

Barca was a soccer, baseball and basketball player before he really fell for hockey, track and field and football — emphasis on football. The latter three sports have had staying power, bumping the first three out of the picture completely.

Football just seems to have a beat that he can dance to.

“Football is No. 1,” he said. “It’s what I like to do most.”

A running back and defensive back — his “D.B.” initials suit him as a safety — Barca will be a key two-way player for the Knights this season as they try to navigate another grueling run through the WPIAL Class 6A circuit.

Reestablishing a running game is what drives Barca most. That, and returning to the playoffs, something Norwin has not done frequently since its last postseason win in 2008.

“We want people to respect us a running team,” Barca said. “Two years ago, we threw the ball like 50 times a game.

“We want to get back to running the ball. We need physicality, momentum and energy and I think we can have all three. Our line should be pretty strong, too, with guys like ‘Sea Bass’ (Sebastian Rosado Guindin) and ‘Moose’ (Anthony Petrulo).”

“Sea Bass” and “Moose” will try to open running lanes for Barca, a sprinter who can give teams trouble once he gets to the perimeter. He was the key leg of a talented 400-meter relay team last spring.

Norwin probably isn’t going to wear out the middle of the turf but could do some damage outside of the hash marks.

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Barca was the Knights’ leading rusher last season with just 331 yards and two touchdowns on 48 carries. The two-year letterman is the likely No. 1 option out of the backfield for the Knights, with senior Nate Harris and junior Christian Beck as additional ball-carrying threats.

Senior quarterback Luke Levendosky also can take off.

Barca will be one of the team captains for the Knights’ Week Zero season opener against Penn-Trafford.

“Dom is a great kid; He’s one of those kids I am excited to see take that big step from a junior to a senior,” said Norwin coach Dave Brozeski, who enters his eighth season as head coach and 25th overall. “He garners a lot of respect from his teammates.”

Asked to describe how others might describe his game, Barca said, “Dangerous.”

“I want to be someone you never count out,” he said. “We have a lot of guys with great attitudes. This is going to be a different Norwin team. We have all been working together great, and there are no classes; everyone is on the same level.”

While firing up the offense was high on the priority list in training camp, Barca thinks the Knights should be improved on the other side of the football.

“Our defense is going to be pretty strong,” he said. “All 11 guys are solid. The secondary should be really good.”

Barca has adjusted to playing the game with asthma. He can be seen jogging back to the sidelines and reaching for his inhaler.

“I need to take a little break here and there,” he said. “My first couple games my sophomore year, I got tired and cramped up pretty bad. I had to come out after a couple plays. But I have adjusted to it.”

Barca is part of an extensive football family tree.

His great-great-grandfather, Phil Dillon, played football and baseball at Pitt. His great-grandfather, Bill Dillon played football at Pitt and Army, and his great-uncle also was a Pitt Panthers football player.

Earl “Red” Westerlund, his grandfather, played semi-professional football and co-founded the Duquesne Midget Football Association. His three uncles — Rick Westerlund, Mark Westerlund and Shawn Westerland — all played college football together at Duquesne. Shawn also was a head coach at Duquesne High School and served as an assistant at Robert Morris under Joe Walton.

Then there is cousin Bob Westerlund, Jr., who also played at Duquesne and is the current defensive coordinator at Penn-Trafford — Norwin’s opponent Friday night.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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