HAMMOCK: Lanier-North football pits brother vs. brother

Jacob McCoy
 Kelley McCoy 

Jacob McCoy Kelley McCoy 

At some point tonight, Lanier senior Kelley McCoy may find himself catching a pass. He may know the North Gwinnett junior varsity player trying to put a hit on him. He may know him very well.

The Bulldog rover won't let up, though. Even if it is Kelley's younger brother Jacob, a sophomore at North.

"He won't (let up), not at all," Kelley said. "He's going to give it his all."

Jacob concurred.

This JV matchup, Lanier vs. North, will be competitive enough for the neighboring communities, with the new school split off from the other in 2010. For the McCoys, it goes even deeper.

It's literally brother vs. brother.

The Bulldog-Longhorn rivalry has existed since Kelley opted to stay at Lanier, where his residence was rezoned when the school opened. Jacob went to Lanier briefly, but opted to return to North with his friends.

The in-home intensity has ramped up even more leading up to the long-awaited showdown.

"There's been a bunch of trash talking," said Trina McCoy, their mother. "I just told them they can't hurt each other."

So far, the war between the brothers, filled with the competitiveness of being born 16 months apart, is strictly words.

"Yeah, we kind of always talk trash," Kelley said. "He likes to talk trash more than I do. I do my talking on the field."

Kelley's young Lanier team may be the underdog in this one -- established North's JV team is undefeated -- but the younger brother still has something to prove.

"Every day, all his (Lanier) friends come over and say, 'We're going to kill y'all,'" said Jacob, admittedly the more energetic sibling in a stark contrast to laid-back Kelley. "If (Kelley) catches a ball over me, I'll never hear the end of it. ... I think it will be fun. All the kids who went to Lanier I've known them since elementary school. I'm friends with all of them. So I want to be relentless. I want them to remember me. But it will be fun more than anything."

Maybe even a little awkward at first.

"I think he matches up with me, so I don't know what I'll think," Kelley said. "I think it will be funny. Like, hey, there's my little brother."

There's actually a chance they could go face-to-face more than just when Kelley is at wideout and Jacob is on defense. Kelley also starts at strong safety and Jacob is hopeful of some carries at running back this week.

It's not exactly the scenario their father Rob, a longtime member of the Suwanee Police Department, envisioned when he signed them up for North football as 6-year-olds. His closet is full of red and black attire, and Lanier's opening threw a curveball.

"If you have kids, you always dream of them on the same team, the same field," Rob said. "Not on the same field for different teams."

Kelley's graduation next spring won't completely ease the burden for the family, though. Rob is the head coach of Lanier's 11-year-old Gwinnett Football League team, which includes his youngest son Caleb.

But the age difference between Jacob and Caleb will prevent any head-to-head meetings like the North-Lanier JV game, which will force Rob to stand in the end zone, allegiance split equally.

He's surprisingly not too worried about what will happen in the field. It's the aftermath he will have to police.

"It's actually been a little stressful this week with them talking all that trash," Rob said. "As for afterward and who wins, I'll have to set some boundaries. No more trash talking."

Will Hammock can be reached via email at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock.