RALEIGH — St. Augustines center Rory Nixon and quarterback Teddy Bacote have been together longer than some marriages. And after 14 years, they still like each other, too.
Nixon and Bacote met through their parents while playing recreation football at age 7 in Hampton, Va. Their friendship blossomed over the years as they attended elementary and middle school together, and played on the same teams.
Each went in a separate direction in high school Bacote to Bethel High and Nixon to rival Hampton High where he helped lead the Crabbers to wins over Bacotes team in grades 10 and 12. Neither player knew at the time that the same college coach was recruiting them. It was a pleasant surprise.
We were friends in high school but because we went to separate schools, we werent hanging together as much, Nixon said. My Mom told me. I signed in February (2009) and Teddy in June. It was a good feeling.
Added Bacote: I was just happy to have somebody here that I knew.
St. Augs head coach Michael Costa also lived in the area while he was an assistant coach at Hampton University.
I knew the family of both of them and how talented they both were, said Costa, who has been the Falcons only head coach since the university reinstated football in 2002. We recruited Rory first and then was fortunate enough to go to Bethel and Teddy was available.
Both say Costa is the main reason they came to Raleigh.
Coach Costa was a genuine person when I talked to him, Bacote said. I took my visit and I liked everything about it (campus). I felt like it was the best thing for me at the time. Im glad I did it.
While Bacote redshirted his first year, Nixon jumped right into the starting lineup at guard. He was switched his sophomore year to center just as Bacote prepared to challenge for the starting quarterback job.
Bacote played in seven games, completed 50 percent of his passes and was named to the All-CIAA rookie team. The two have been on the field together ever since.
We knew (Bacote) had the potential to be something special, Costa said. We had to put him in earlier than we expected because of injuries, but he didnt panic and it has turned out well.
On Saturday, Nixon will start in his 41st and final college game when the Falcons host archrival Shaw on campus at 1:30 p.m. During the preseason, both teams had high hopes this game would decide the division winner. But the Falcons have lost two of their past three games, and the Bears are on a two-game losing streak.
That doesnt diminish Saturdays significance, however.
This is your rival, Shaw coach Robert Massey said. You always want to beat your rival. This is for bragging rights for the upcoming year.
For Bacote and Nixon, its a lot more.
Nixon soon will be moving on with a degree in business administration, while Bacote has another year to help get St. Augs that elusive CIAA championship.
Even after this, (Nixon) wont be far. Hell be somewhere around here. Well keep in contact, Bacote said.
Added Nixon: It has hit me (last game). I loved playing football here, and I have no regrets.