HIGHLAND SPRINGS, VA (WWBT) - Football players often refer to teammates as brothers. When Highland Springs offensive tackle D’Onte Griggs takes the field with his brothers in football, he’s in charge of protecting his blood brother, quarterback D’Vonte Waller.
Waller and Griggs are playing in their third season together for the Springers. Waller, a senior, is going for his fourth state title with Highland Springs on Saturday, while the junior Griggs will shoot for his third. The two brothers have a competitive nature about them that started when they were young.
“Just always competing with each other,” Waller recalls of their childhood, “and just making sure everything we do is fun, make it fun, and it was amazing just coming up and being with my brother.”
“We’re sitting at home on the couch, and then we’d be like ‘let’s go outside and throw the football,’” adds Griggs. “We’re throwing the football imagining what if I did this in a game, what if I did that... it’s like the imagery we get together when we go outside and play football.”
The competitiveness between the two brothers carries over as teammates. Both will offer advice and criticism to the other, which is welcomed, though the younger Griggs may be a bit more outspoken than his senior sibling, if you ask head coach Loren Johnson.
“The younger sibling has a lot to say,” Johnson laughs, “and the older sibling doesn’t say much at all.”
“When they come off the field, sideline-wise, when they’re at practice, I mean they’re going back and forth with each other and I can only imagine what it is in the house.”
“That’s my brother, so I eat him up a little bit,” Griggs says," like ‘what are you doing,' and we’ll get back together."
“It’s funny to see him do stuff like that, but I love when he [does] it, because he’s letting me know how much he cares,” says Waller.
The relationship between the two brothers has helped elevate the Springers to a high school football dynasty. Waller has developed into one of the area’s best quarterbacks, thanks in large part to the protection of his younger brother, whose instinct may help push the entire offensive line to be a little bit better.
“He doesn’t want anybody to his his brother from the blindside, he doesn’t want anybody to punish his brother with a grueling hit, so he may work a little harder. He may encourage the guys next to him to work a little bit harder and make the offensive line as a whole a better organization, a better team together, Johnson says of Griggs.”
Now Highland Springs eyes a fourth consecutive state crown, a feat accomplished by just two VHSL programs. Waller and Griggs look to help the Springers to that feat in their final game in the same uniform.
“I just can’t lose,” Waller says. “It’s my senior year, it’ll hurt to just go home your senior year and you know you’ve got the great opportunity to just take over and win.”
“[There] would be nothing much better than to bring four home for Richmond, Highland Springs, whatever you want to say, and my teammates, because we all put the work in,” Griggs adds.
On Saturday, they’ll get that chance. Highland Springs and Stone Bridge kick off in the Class 5 state championship game at noon at Hampton University.