The morning after a loss is the worst. The throbbing pain remains in the thighs and calves, while the emotional anguish of the defeat is fresh in the memory. Ignorant of the pain, Seattle Preparatory running back Tere Calloway sat on the couch with his best friend, re-living the most heart-breaking loss in his high school football career thus far.
At one point in the game, Calloway rewinds the tape to watch himself tackle the other team's star running back, wearing a maroon number five jersey. Calloway turns to his friend and smiles. He replays the tackle again. His friend, agitated, urges Calloway to just let the tape run. Calloway replays the tackle one more time and his friend puts his head down and smiles. Number five is Tatum Taylor, and Taylor is the friend sitting next to Calloway on the couch.
Best friends on the couch, fierce rivals on the football field, Tere Calloway and Tatum Taylor are mirror images of each other. Both stand just below six feet, both double as defensive backs and running bucks and each is the best player on their respective teams, the two best football teams in Seattle's Metro League. Football recruiting website Rivals.com ranked Taylor and Calloway number five and seven, respectively, in their preseason state prospect rankings.
The two senior football players will experience the peaks and valleys of the most important football season of their lives together, despite going to rival high schools.
The pair first met as eight-year olds playing football together for the C.D. (Central District) Panthers and spending time together at the Rotary Boys and Girls Club after school. Nearly ten years later, Calloway and Taylor are still playing football and they are still inseparable off the field.
"We're literally brothers," Calloway said.
Though they are both natives of the C.D., neither of them attends Garfield or Franklin, the local public high schools. Calloway attends Seattle Prep in Capitol Hill while Taylor attends O'Dea High School, an all-boys school located on First Hill.
If Calloway did not have initial aspirations to play the quarterback position, he would have likely ended up at O'Dea with Taylor. However, because Prep's spread offense offered a better quarterback showcase for colleges, Calloway chose to become a Panther. In hindsight, Calloway is happy they ended up at different schools.
"It's proved our friendship is strong and it would've been easier to play with Tatum," Calloway said.
The athletic rivalry between these Catholic high schools is storied, but O'Dea has displayed dominance on the football field, winning the past 32 games between the two schools. Last year, O'Dea barely kept their streak alive by stopping Prep's two-point conversion attempt in the game's final seconds, securing a 21-20 victory. At the end of the night, Calloway and Taylor had accounted for all but one touchdown in the game.
After shaking hands before the game, a switch turned on in Calloway and Taylor's heads. Friendship was out of the equation, it was time for them to talk trash and exploit each other's weaknesses. Calloway, who played safety in the game, tackled Taylor numerous times.
"There's no friendship when we're on the field," Calloway said. "He's trying to torch me on defense and every time I see him, I'm trying to take his head off."
Once the game is over, the two are back to being best friends. The next morning, Calloway is at Taylor's house and they dish out critiques, analyze the game, and pick each other's brains to find ways to improve.
"It's a beautiful relationship. Tere is hanging out with Tatum the next day after that one-point loss? That says a lot about his character," Taylor's father, Joseph Buchanon remarked.
As best friends, their competitive spirits spill over into their relationship off the field. They religiously play NCAA College Football against each other on Xbox. On the weekends, they frequently go bowling with their friends at Imperial Lanes. And on the way driving to the bowling alley, they make it a competition to see who can get there faster. Even though Taylor is a state champion in the 100-meter dash, Calloway stubbornly refuses to admit Taylor would beat him in a foot race.
The constant debate and teasing are all in good fun though. Through their similar backgrounds and shared ambition to play college football, the two clicked as best friends.
"To have them focused on school and ignoring peer pressure, it means a lot," Tere's father, Terry Calloway said. "We're not worried about them mixing in with the wrong crowd when they're going out together."
Taylor relayed a story about how both tore the menisci in their left knees during their sophomore year. Taylor injured his knee during the football postseason and Calloway hurt himself during track season. Calloway benefited from Taylor's encouragement and valued knowing his best friend had just rehabbed his way through the exact same injury.
Calloway is the more vocal of the two. "He's intense. He is always talking about football, football, football," a mutual friend of the two, Bryan Carter said. Taylor's reputation of being soft-spoken contrasts Calloway's demeanor. Robert Calloway, Tere's cousin and another friend of Taylor's said the O'Dea star is one of the most humble people he's ever met.
The two have been silent in terms of providing vocal leadership on their football teams. Both have let their games do the talking for them, but according to their coaches, they will have to step into leadership roles this coming season, whether they like it or not:
"Tere is going to have to take charge during moments of adversity," Prep Head Coach Garrett Cook said.
O'Dea's Head Coach Monte Kohler feels the same way about Taylor, "It's Tatum's time now. He'll be a senior and he'll be a leader because of his experience."
The Tacoma News Tribune's preseason football rankings have O'Dea and Seattle Prep No. 2 and No. 3 respectively behind powerhouse Bellevue. O'Dea and Prep face each other in the fourth week of the season in a game with probable playoff implications.
"This game will probably decide who plays in the Metro Championship, but also, between Tere and I, it's bragging rights for the rest of our lives. It's his last chance to beat me," Taylor said.
In conjunction with their preparation for the coming football season, colleges across the country are recruiting the pair. Idaho, Nevada, Portland State, Purdue and Wyoming have offered scholarships to both players. Currently, Calloway holds additional offers from Colorado and Syracuse while Taylor is interested in Arizona State, Oregon, Washington State and Louisiana State University's track program.
Their lists are not trimmed yet, and both plan to take their official visits and make their decisions after the football season is over. Though both playing together, is the ideal situation, they know their bond will not break if they end up at different schools.
"We wouldn't be parting ways, we're not too worried about separating," Calloway said. "We go to rival high schools right now and we are still best friends."
MAH00035 (via Kevin Cacabelos)
Tere Calloway and Tatum Taylor work out together at Garfield HS in July.