‘Brothers’ battle it out from the sidelines

Published 1:16 am Saturday, December 1, 2007

CLINTON — One had to win and one had to lose. That’s the cruel reality of sports.

Either Bill Hurst or Keith Wicker would come out victorious and the other would be left explaining away a loss.

But after it was over and Hurst’s Centreville Tigers had overtaken Wicker’s Marshall Academy Patriots, the two old friends embraced and told each other how proud they were of the other.

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You see, this wasn’t just any ordinary game between old coaching rivals. It was much more than that.

Hurst and Wicker go back a long way. Wicker was an assistant at Centreville under Hurst from 1988-1995 and again in 2000.

So deep are Wicker’s roots at Centreville that the Tiger cheerleaders painted a sign they hung on the visitors bleachers that said “We love you coach Wicker!”

Hurst considers Wicker one of his closest friends.

“I feel like he’s one of my brothers,” Hurst said of Wicker. “I’ve known him since he went to Southwest Junior College and then he came to Centreville and coached with me for many years.”

Wicker was equally glowing in his remarks about Hurst after the game.

“We’ve been friends for a long time and are good friends now,” Wicker said. “I knew their team wasn’t going to quit because that’s just how he is.”

Wicker shared hugs with several of the Centreville players after the game, some of which he watched grow up In the school and coached In youth football.

“It’s real special to be playing against them,” Wicker said. “I know all of them. They’re a good bunch of young men.”

After the game, the two old friends and coaching rivals shared a warm embrace and Hurst addressed Wicker’s Marshall Academy team.

“There was no quit in you because you’re just like your coach,” Hurst told Marshall’s players. “You play just like him. Nobody’s a loser In this game. If you listen to him you’ll be back here many times.”

While the scoreboard said that Hurst’s team defeated the team of his good friend and former assistant, the hearts and minds of those Involved In the two programs know that both teams will go out on top because of the classy gentlemen who lead them.