Castle Park's Luqman Barcoo averaged 39.2 yards a catch last season for the Trojans.
CHULA VISTA Luqman Barcoo longed to play Pop Warner football, but there was one issue. The $250 registration fee. His mother, Brigette Burns, was a single mom raising five children on a hair stylist’s salary.
“And I wasn’t into sports,” says Burns.
She showed her son, who was 10 or 11 at the time, a $100 bill, and told him, “If you never mention football to me again, that’s yours.”
Recalls Burns, “He said, ‘No, I really want to play.’ ”
Burns scraped together the $250 and Barcoo, now a senior at Castle Park High, has been a tackling and pass-catching demon ever since. As a sophomore playing safety, Barcoo led the Trojans in tackles and picked off four passes. He recorded another four interceptions last season, plus caught 13 receptions for 510 yards and five TDs.
For the math challenged, that averages 39.2 yards per catch, and prompts a question. Why didn’t the Trojans travel by air more often?
For one, Castle Park operates out of the run-happy wing-T, but coach Hans Graham, a Castle Park alum, promises, “We are going to throw the ball.”
Barcoo is 6 feet tall and weighs 158 pounds. He’s as smooth as his lyrical-sounding name — Luqman (pronounced Luke-mahn) Ahmad Barcoo.
“He’s got some hops,” says Graham. “He’s not crazy fast. He just has an ability to run with somebody and if the ball’s in the air, he’s going to catch it.”
As impressive as Barcoo is catching a football, Graham thinks his college future is in the secondary.
“He’s tough as heck,” says Graham. “He’ll tackle your butt. He’s got a nose for the ball and he brings it.”
Barcoo is the second youngest of five children. He has an older brother, Dejuan, who is 19.
“But to this day,” says Burns, “he swears he’s the older brother.”
While Dejuan’s interests leaned to music as a child, Luqman favored being outside, playing.
“He was always very energetic,” says Burns. “Back flipping off a wall while catching a football, riding skateboards. He almost had a reckless energy.”
Once exposed to football, Barcoo discovered his passion.
“He lives football. It’s like he was born to play,” says Burns.
Barcoo’s father is Jamaican. Burns says he was deported to Jamaica when Luqman was about 6.
“I have been Luqman’s influence, his mother and father figure,” says Burns.
Students say Luqman is likable, the kind of guy who treats non-athletes the same way he does athletes.
“He’s just a good kid,” a good respectable kid,” says Graham. “Whoever’s raising him is raising him right.”
Burns says she has raised her children with a firm hand.
“I threatened them a lot,” she says. “I’m a very effective communicator. I don’t believe in (spanking) them, but I threaten them a lot. I told them, ‘I’m not going to visit you in jail. There’s five of you, so you’re pretty expendable. If you mess up there still will be four of you left.’ ”
Like his mother, Luqman enjoys writing. Two of his favorite books are “1984” by George Orwell and “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry. Also like his mother, who is now attending college, Barcoo is interested in studying psychology.
Of the woman who has raised him, Barcoo says, “I relate to my mom a lot.”