Victoria East quarterback Ethan White and Victoria West quarterback Donovan Harris grew up playing football in the front yard of their families’ homes and on the field in the Crossroads Youth Football League.
But the stakes will be higher when the two clash for the 10th time in the Battle for the Boot on Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
“We’ve always been close,” White said. “We played baseball, football and a lot of sports growing up. He’s family.”
The two met in first grade, and their friendship took off during their time in the CYFL.
White and Harris played for Titan Purple, Titan Red and Stampedes.
“It’s pretty awesome,” White said. “When we were little, we had stacked teams, and we beat everybody. It was fun.”
Both have come a long way since then and will look to make the most of Friday night’s rivalry game.
This will be the second time the two friends will clash under the Friday night lights.
Last season, Harris played quarterback while White was at the receiver position.
“It will be sad, but it feels great to be on the field against Donovan and West,” White said. “When I see Donovan on the field Friday night, I’m going to feel proud.”
Since East and West opened in 2010, White and the Titans (0-3, 0-1) enter Friday’s game with a 6-3 record against their crosstown rival. White hopes to extend the streak against Harris and the Warriors (1-2, 1-0).
East is coming off a 42-14 District 15-5A, Division I loss to Corpus Christi Miller, while the Warriors carry the momentum of a 30-7 district-opening win over Corpus Christi Moody.
“The weather has been crazy but our kids are learning to overcome those situations,” said East head coach Roland Gonzalez. “We’ve had to change our routine but all that aside, we’ve had a really good week and the kids are focused.”
Last year’s meeting between the two schools came down to the final seconds.
East led Victoria West 31-28 with 52 seconds left when East graduate Jacob Leigh grabbed his second interception of the game to stop a Warriors’ drive and secure the Titans’ victory.
“Focus is always the key,” Gonzalez said. “We have to go and execute the game plan. We have been focusing and getting the reps to be ready for Friday night.”
The Warriors begin Friday night averaging 20 points per game.
West is led by running back Tyvon Hardrick, who has rushed for an area-leading 529 yards and five touchdowns. East’s William Garley has rushed for 300 yards and four touchdowns.
“Those guys bring a lot to the table,” Gonzalez said of West. “There’s always an area of concern, and we’re going to have to contain them. History has shown that anything can happen during this week.”
For White, seeing East capture its first win of the season against West is paramount.
“It would mean everything,” White said. “All that matters is us making the playoffs and beating West.”