In 2016, Barefield guided the young program to new heights, winning The Sun Conference championship, and securing a spot in the NAIA Football Championship Series for the first time. That marked the third different NAIA program Barefield has taken to the NAIA playoffs.
For his efforts, Barefield was named The Sun Conference Coach of the Year.
During the first year of competition, the Fire put together an impressive 8-3 campaign, which included an undefeated mark at home. Additionally, the Fire proved to be one of the most proficient offenses in the NAIA, averaging 38.7 points per game, ranking seventh in the NAIA in scoring and ninth in yards per game at 444.2.
In 2015, the Fire were 9-2, and cracked the NAIA Coaches' Top 25 for the first time in program history on October 19th. For a second consecutive year, the Fire factored into The Sun Conference championship picture, and continued its reputation as a high-powered offense. SEU averaged 42.4 points per game and put together one of the best rushing attacks in the nation, averaging 217.9 yards per game on the ground.
Before coming to Lakeland, Barefield was the head coach at Northwestern Oklahoma State. Barefield led the Rangers to the NAIA post-season in 2007, 2008, and 2010 while compiling a record of 36-18. Barefield coached six NAIA All-Americans and four academic All-Americans.
Barefield also spent 19 years at Evangel University from 1980-1999. While at Evangel, Barefield had a record of 66-33-2 in 10 years as the head coach. He led the Crusaders to eight consecutive winning seasons while developing 15 NAIA All-Americans and 10 NAIA Scholar Athletes. In the 1990’s, Barefield’s Evangel teams had the winningest record among the 18 intercollegiate football playing institutions in the state of Missouri (63-27-2).
“I am truly honored to be named the first head football coach at Southeastern. I have many family members and close friends who are alumni of SEU. My two older brothers are both graduates of this university. These connections provide me a keen awareness of the rich tradition and heritage of Southeastern, as well as an understanding of the love and respect that the alumni, faculty and staff share for it. With this background, I have a deep respect for the expectations and standards by which the football program and all programs of this university are measured. We will seek, identify and sign student-athletes that are committed to being champions for Christ, champions in the classroom and champions on the field of competition.”
Barefield attended Southeastern in 1975 and 1976 before transferring to Evangel University where he was the first ever starting fullback for the newly created program.
In addition to his experience in the NAIA, Barefield made stops at Cornerstone High School in San Antonio, Texas where he won state championships in 2001 and 2003 as the head coach and athletic director. Barefield was also the head coach and director of football operations for the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings of the Arena Football League from 2003-2005 and a regional scout for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League from 2001-2007.
Barefield earned his Master’s Degree from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in 1983 and his Bachelor’s Degree from Evangel University in 1978. He has also been a member of the NAIA Football Coaches Association for 24 years and served as the President in 1996.
Coach Barefield and his staff will begin recruiting immediately for Southeastern with plans for the first game to take place in the Fall of 2014.
“I have recruited the state of Florida for over 30 years,” added Barefield. “It is a talent rich recruiting ground that has provided my teams with athletes who have been major contributors to whatever success I may have enjoyed as a college football coach. Each recruiting season as I traveled the I-4 corridor, I thought to myself, as I passed through Lakeland, that if they ever started a football program at Southeastern, I wanted to be the first in line to coach. Well, that day is finally here and I am excited to be the coach to launch the football program at Southeastern University.”
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