DURHAM — Five minutes before N.C. Central coach Jerry Mack enters the visitors locker room at Aggie Stadium to deliver his pregame speech for Saturday's (Nov. 21) Aggie-Eagle Classic, Ryan and Tre Smith will find each other.
They’ll stand together, bow their heads, and say the same prayer they learned at Wise High School and prayed together for the last four years.
Lord, help us come closer together as a team. Pull for one another deep down in our hearts. Help us remember the good times and the bad times. With pride and dignity as one team. Give us love for one another as means to accomplish our goal. The Lord our shepherd. Strengthen our wounds. Hustle, hustle, hustle.
Then, before they step on the field to kickoff the last game of their season and last of their careers together, they’ll stand on the sideline, bow their heads and say another prayer.
They started their careers at NCCU with the same ritual, and it’s the only way they could possibly end it.
Fifteen years ago in Clinton, Maryland, the brothers separated by a mere 14 months began playing football on the same neighborhood team. And this afternoon at Aggie Stadium, they’ll walk off the field the same way they entered the sport so many years ago — together.