BRYAN, Texas — For 364 days of the year, Trace Brightwell is friends with most of the players on the Allen Academy football team. But for one Friday night each fall, Brightwell's friends become his enemies.
"If I lose, I'll never hear the end of it," Brightwell says. "I'm graduating high school. It's my senior year, I want to leave on a high note."
Speaking of leaving, Brightwell left Allen Academy after eighth grade and enrolled in St. Joe's High School. However, he's 0-2 in his career against his former teammates.
"Whenever he's out there, I want to show him he's missing out and he should be here," Allen Academy senior lineman Ryan Hassell says.
That's the type of good natured trash talk that makes the annual "Crosstown Showdown, Private School Edition" one of the best rivalries in the Brazos Valley.
"We always wish them the best, especially because they're not in the district," St. Joe's head coach Alec Castilleja says. "We want them to be successful for the community of Bryan, but we want to beat them. We want to play our best game of the year against them."
Both coach Castilleja and Allen Academy coach Adrian Adams like the idea of starting off the season with a high intensity game like this because it sets the tone for the rest of the season. The Rams and Eagles each have state championship aspirations, and this is a measuring stick type game to see how far they've come through fall camp.
"We have tunnel vision. Getting to December 10, we have to get through September 25 first," coach Adams says. "St. Joe's is our first opponent, so anyone standing in our way we are trying to go through them to get to state."
Allen Academy pulled off the win in 2019 by two points, and this year's game has all the makings to be another instant classic.
Kickoff is set for 7 pm on Friday night at Baker Field.