By Don Lowe
Whether it’s fullback on offense or linebacker on defense, Aurora Houn’ Dawgs senior two-way standout Jose Ibarra believes showcasing his talent as a starter at both of those positions is all about physicality.
Ibarra says playing fullback successfully requires “making sure I know all the plays and being physical when I’m blocking.”
As for linebacker, Ibarra says, “When you’re playing receiver or cornerback, you can get away with not being physical. But when you’re playing in the box on defense, nothing is more important than being physical.”
In assessing Ibarra’s improved skillsets on both sides of the ball, Aurora Football Head Coach Brandon Pitts says, “In our offense, our fullback is a hybrid position that blocks like a true fullback but also has routes like a tight end.
“Jose is a great route runner with soft hands, so it makes him great in our passing game. But he’s a very physical, tough blocker. I think he could play multiple positions if we needed him to do so.”
On the defensive side, Coach Pitts analyzes, “Jose sees the field very well and is our trusted leader on defense. We can always count on him to be where we need him to be to give our defense a chance. Not to mention, he has great instincts and is as physical as anyone around.”
When Ibarra considers athletic capabilities that have helped him excel at both positions, he suggests that at fullback, “Despite my small frame, I used to play tackle and have gained a good knowledge of how to block.”
At linebacker, Ibarra says, “I have always picked up on the little things with the game, such as knowing when certain players and teams like doing things on a specific down or distance to go, and what they do on one side of the field or the other.”
Coach Pitts raves that at fullback, “Jose just made the change to that position this year and is getting better every week. His understanding of our offense is improving, which is making him even better.”
Things didn’t come quite so easily for Ibarra when he initially started playing linebacker, but Coach Pitts recalls, “As a first-year starter in 2022, he struggled with the speed of varsity play early on but showed flashes of being very good.
“By the end of the year, he was arguably our best player. He is physical and tough and has a great understanding of what’s happening around him. He’s fun to coach. Jose’s talent is awesome, but his leadership is what truly sets him apart.
“He’s respected by both his peers and coaches. When Jose talks, everyone listens. He’s like having an assistant coach as an athlete the way he holds himself and his teammates accountable.”
The way Ibarra handles himself on and off the field is exemplary and Coach Pitts says, “He’s a leader on and off the field. Jose isn’t one that I worry about making wrong choices and he actively tries to elevate all those around him.
“He’s the type of kid that gets home late from a game and still goes out and does his chores. Then he gets up in the morning and is on to school and practice.”
Aurora Houn’ Dawgs Football Star
Jose Ibarra Fast Facts
Grade in School: 12th
Parents: Miguel and Sanjuana Ibarra
Siblings: Michael and Eduardo
Hometown: Aurora, Missouri
Favorite Subject in School: History
Favorite Food: Traditional Mexican Dish
Favorite Football Movie: When the Game Stands Tall
Favorite Pro Football Player: Clay Matthews