Two local football stars will go head to head in a bit of a gridiron reunion this weekend when Westlake High School alums, Drew Brees and Nick Foles, square off in the NFL playoffs.
The last time two quarterbacks from the same high school went against each other in an NFL playoff game was 1974 when Terry Bradshaw and the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated Joe Ferguson and the Buffalo Bills on their way to their first Super Bowl title. Both played high school ball at Woodlawn High School in Shreveport, La.
Brees graduated from Westlake in 1997 and has already put together a Hall of Fame career that includes a Super Bowl win with the New Orleans Saints. Foles is a 2007 Westlake graduate in his second season with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“My first reaction was, ‘who do I root for?’” said Derek Long. “I asked my wife, ‘Drew or Nick?’ and it didn’t take long…I’m rooting for both of them.”
Long was the coach when Foles took Westlake to the State Championship and on the staff 10 years earlier when Drew Brees won Westlake its only state championship.
“We have a tradition here at Westlake where we would award stickers for success on offense, for touchdowns, or long passes, or great blocks,” Long said. “I think both Drew and Nick would always take their stickers off their helmets and give them to offensive linemen.”
Memories of 35 years of the school’s biggest wins decorate Mark Hurst’s shelves. But for all the success, Saturday’s match-up is special.
“It ranks way up there,” he said. “We all won’t be there in a stadium watching together, but everyone will be at home with their friends and family…it’s a big deal.”
The lack of wall space in the coaches office, which is covered with pictures of former greats, is proof the school is a football factory, but the odds of two former quarterbacks meeting in the NFL playoffs are still astronomical.
“It’s not something you can foresee, there are just too many factors that can derail that,” Long said of the two meeting up on such a big stage.
But for the two quarterbacks, there are countless factors working for them. Competitiveness is one of the first that comes to Long’s mind.
“If they were playing basketball you would think Nick would dominate because he’s 6-foot-6, and Drew is 6-foot,” Long said. “But I’d bet you it would be down to the last basket because they’re both competitive.
“Most people can’t understand the level of competitiveness you have to have at the NFL level to be successful.”
And most don’t understand a lot of what it takes to be an NFL quarterback, but at least at Westlake, your odds are doubled.
Philadelphia hosts New Orleans on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. on NBC.