Camden Catholic in Cherry Hill, NJ is a pretty good team. 5-0 to be exact. In the rating system that their state uses, Camden is right up there amongst the elite. That's Quran Barge's team.
Nyere's team isn't in that same boat. Actually, they aren't even in the same body of water, Aumatire's team struggling to a 2-3 record right now, now having to face a team that hasn't been beat all year.
Believe it or not though, both Nyere and Quran knows how the build-up has felt. "It was just like this last year." Quran said of the situation between Camden Catholic and Woodrow Wilson. "I think they were 2-3 or something like that coming in and we were undefeated."
That didn't stop Woodrow from giving Camden a game though, Catholic winning the defensive battle, just 10-0. "It's like that every time with them." Barge stated. "They leave it all out on the field and give their hearts, so we know we have a serious game when we play them."
Considering the records, what each team is playing for would seem obviously different, but Woodrow still has a chance for post-season opportunities. Well, once chance. "We have to have this game." Aumaitre stated. "It's do or die time and this is where we have to bring everything we have and come out with a victory."
You might ask yourself how even a team that has 10 games in the regular season can even think of making the post-season. It's all about power. Power ratings that is and like the notorious, BCS system utilized in college, this system rewards you for beating good teams. And, there's no better team that Woodrow will face all year than the one they will play today.
That's pressure, but it's now when you find out just what kind of team you are. "This is where we have to go to every player and let everyone know that this is our time." Nyere said. "There's nothing beyond this if we don't win, so everyone has to understand what we are playing for."
While Camden will have to get around Aumaitre, Woodrow Wilson has a little tougher task in trying to collar Quran, because he's bound to be just about everywhere at any given time. As the starting running back and a starting safety, Barge has his hands full, but he wouldn't have it any other way. "It's hard, but it's better than standing on the sidelines." Barge stated. "I would rather be out there.
On the season, (Barge playing 4 of the 5 games), Barge has managed over 100 yards rushing each contest, approaching 200 twice and on defense, he's running nearly as much because wherever he is, you can bet the other side is there the play ultimately goes. "Nobody comes my direction." Quran said. "I have to chase every play down, because it's usually across the field."
Like his friend, Aumaitre, Barge has offers from some big names, Nebraska and Michigan State offering him as well, but added to that, Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Syracuse finish the list.
Because Nyere and Quran are friends, you can imagine they talk a lot about football, friends and other stuff in general. They do indeed, but not this week. Never the week before they face off. "We don't talk before our game." Aumaitre stated. "We never do. Right now, he's the other guy and when we get on the field, he's on the team we have to beat."
Though Barge has never found himself on the wrong-end of an Aumaitre block down-field, he knows that it could happen tonight. He also knows that friendships mean nothing once that clock starts running. "We're friends before the game and we're friends after the game." Barge stated. "During the game though, there are no friends, just your teammates and them."
The fate of one team could be decided today , but of Aumaitre, his fate, at least as a recruit has some time before it will find it's ultimate end. And currently, only one official has been scheduled, that one next week to Nebraska for the Iowa State game. His list is comprised of a top three, that being Pittsburgh, Nebraska and Virginia.
As for Barge he's not taking any visits until the season is over, but has one scheduled right now to Rutgers (Dec. 12) and could visit Nebraska the week prior to that if they don't play in the state-title game. And though Aumaitre has a top-three, Quran isn't stating just where his list sits right now. "The coaches have been real good about just letting me take care of my season and school." Barge stated. "So, I'm just going to do some research during the season and figure it all out after that."
Friends turn into enemies, then turn into friends again. And, each has so much to play for as they face off for the only time this season. Aumaitre and Barge both look at this game the same, despite one is fighting for life and the other is just fighting to stay unbeaten. It's a game and who doesn't want to win that? "It's a win that will keep us going." Aumaitre stated. "It's a game and we feel we have to win all our games." Quran said. Two different players, two similar ideals and two pretty darn good futures in college to boot.
Steve Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-730-5619