Ex-Warriors face off in collegePublished 10:39pm Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Saturday featured a momentous gridiron showdown between Delaware State University and Morgan State University. The schools are conference foes, but the game was particularly special because it pitted longtime Nansemond River High School teammates and friends against each other.
Morgan State redshirt freshmen running back Lamont Brown III and tight end Willie Gillus III opposed Delaware State sophomore defensive lineman Corey Barnes for the first time since the three spent four years as varsity Warriors.
The game featured four lead changes in the fourth quarter, but the Bears prevailed 31-26, in large part due to a big game by Brown, who ran for two touchdowns and a career-high 132 yards.
All three players acknowledged that playing against a former Warrior teammate added something to the game.
“It’s always fun when you’re going against an old teammate,” Brown said of Barnes. “It was a good experience.”
Barnes naturally did not feel good about losing the game, but said it was tough “especially losing to that particular team,” knowing who was on it.
It was clear after the game there were no hard feelings, though.
“I feel like they played good,” Barnes said of Brown and Gillus. “I told them after the game that they played a real good game.”
Barnes had three tackles for the game, two of them solo take downs of Brown. He said it was a bit strange playing against him, but he got used to it as the game went on.
As they got up following the tackles, Barnes said, “It was a little bit of words exchanged in the game, but that’s just football.”
“I told him after the game, ‘We’re still family,’” Barnes said, but when the game is on, “‘I‘ve got to come at you like I’m coming at anybody else.’”
Seeing Brown in countless practices and games previously helped with that.
“I knew what type of running back he was and how he operated, and so I did use that to my benefit,” Barnes said.
Brown complimented Barnes’ performance.
“He played good,” he said, noting special blocks were set up to stop him.
Gillus alluded to the extra motivation each of them felt.
“I wanted to be able to compete well against (Barnes),” he said.
Barnes said facing Brown and Gillus “made me want to go out there just a little bit more.”
Brown explained how the stakes of the game come to bear when the trio returns home to Suffolk.
“Everybody always wants to know who won the game when you played each other,” he said.
Barnes knew if his friends got the win, “They’re going to be talking trash.”
“I knew that I had to come home with the bragging rights at Thanksgiving,” Gillus said.
Bragging rights aside, the bond between the players persists even though they are now playing for opposing Division I Football Championship Subdivision college programs.
“I still call them and talk to them,” Barnes said. He is particularly close with Gillus. “I talk to him every Friday,” he said.
The trio’s connection is strengthened by the fact all three made it to the D1 level from the same Nansemond River class.
When all was said and done following Saturday’s contest, Brown was thrilled to get his first 100-yard game in college, but he echoed Barnes’ comment: “We’re still family.”