Joel Daul strolled into the North squad's first team meeting of the week on Monday at Pacific University, surveyed the scope of adversaries staring back at him and couldn't help by laugh.
Hand-picked to represent Jesuit as part of the "North" team for the 70th annual Les Schwab Bowl on June 24, Joel, his twin brother, Jarred, and fellow Crusader linemen Trevor Pixley were marked men when the trio descended upon Forest Grove for a week of practices and off-the-field activities.
Pixley and the Dauls didn't play dirty — they played through the whistle with a pulverizing brand of football in the trenches. But "The Franchise," as it was known to many, was damn good on both sides of the football and they'd let you know about it too with well-calculated barbs and verbal jabs that both amused and irked their opponents. Trash talk, after all, is just as big a part of football as blocking and tackling. And the Dauls didn't just rattle off smack, they backed it up with a 2015 Class 6A state championship and two Metro League crowns during their celebrated two-year tenure at Cronin Field. Along the way with such success and physical domination, the identical twins picked up an enemy or two, or four or five, but who was really counting? Donning the green and gold naturally comes with an attached, state-wide disdain as it is.
But once the initial discomfort de-thawed and the Crusader trenchmen began breaking down those barriers between themselves and players such as Westview's Boogie Davis, Aloha's Paul Frazier, Sunset's Jason DuMont and Beaverton's Kenny Ervin, all parties was able to get on the same page and set the past aside — if only for a week or so.
"At first it was a little awkward," Joel Daul said with a smile. "You walk in there and there are all these guys you've talked crap with over the years. But then you put the pads on and realize you have to come together if you want to have a chance to win. We started making friends, started bonding. It was a lot of fun."
"I picked up a couple of personal fouls against some of those guys," Jarred Daul said with a laugh. "I made sure (DuMont) knew I blocked a couple of his passes. They're all great guys. It was good to go back-and-forth with everybody. We've had rivalries with Central (Catholic), Tigard, all the Metro schools, West Linn, so to get to know them off the field was pretty fun."
The final result of the star-studded affair tilted toward the South, who took the contest, 10-7, over the Metro League-laden North at Hillsboro Stadium.
To play in the LSB was an honor and a career highlight for all of the Metro greats, who relished the chance to unite forces and talents on the same field for a final time. And before the game kicked off the North and South squads made their way to the movie theater as a group, to Big Al's for bowling and a wing-eating contest at Buffalo Wild Wings on top of two-a-day practices Monday-through-Friday.
"At the beginning, it was kind of playing with a bunch of rivals, but by about Wednesday everybody had gelled together — it was like we were a whole different team," Frazier said. "It was almost like we'd been playing together since youth (football), we were that close. I couldn't have asked for a better experience. I've wanted to play in this game since I was a little kid and just to get here is a blessing."
On a given play, DuMont would line up in the shotgun formation with Beaverton star running back Anthony Albright directly to his right with Frazier, Ervin bunched out wide to the left with the Dauls and Pixley blocking up front.
"It was awesome getting to know some of these guys I've grown up playing against and not necessarily liked, but grew to like as the week went on," DuMont said. "In-between the lines, guys are a lot different. All of these guys are competitors, so sometimes personalities clash. But when you're on the same team, there's nobody I'd rather have. I gelled really well with the North squad and had a ton of fun with them. Our relationships got stronger and stronger. By the end of the week, we've all become pretty good friends, which is pretty cool."
All 10 Metro players saw extensive playing time and experienced their share of positive moments. DuMont guided the North squad with his pinpoint passing and accurate delivery despite having just five days to get in-sync with his receivers. The Apollo quarterback led two drives inside the red zone and had two highlight reel dimes to Central Catholic tight end Jarrad Reed in the middle of the field. DuMont, who's playing baseball for San Jose State University next season, completed 12-of-23 passes for 130 yards.
"I can't remember the last time I picked up a football, but this was a great game to go out on," DuMont said with a smile. "We got better as the game went on. I think if we had one more quarter we might have come out on top. Football is one of my passions. I've put a lot of hard work into it. It's kind of sad hanging up the cleats and putting on the spikes again, but I'm really excited to play at (SJSU). It's a necessary end to something I really enjoyed doing."
Frazier, the ultra-versatile Warrior weapon with a jack-of-all-trades ability, was only able to return one kick for 11 yards. Nevertheless, the explosive Aloha wide receiver/special teams star was proud to represent the Warrior community and strap on the pads one last time as a high school player. Frazier, along with some of the North's other stars such as Brennan Howell, Nate Fields and J.J. Perez, will suit up for the College of the Siskiyous in the fall. Beaverton kicker Tristan Lewis made the North's lone extra point with 1:15 left in the fourth quarter to go along with six punts for 229 yards including one that landed inside the South 20-yard line. The Beaver kicker also launched the North's only kickoff 60 yards into the end zone for a touchback. Albright carried the ball twice for eight yards. Fittingly, Joel and Jarred Daul lined up at right guard and right tackle for the North.
Davis was his normally disruptive self at defensive tackle, blowing up halfback draws in the backfield, snuffing out trick plays for big losses behind the line scrimmage and knifing into the pocket to tip away passes. Just days before he leaves for Portland State University, Davis made sure no plays were no taken off.
"I had to bring it all out and leave it all out on the field," Davis said. "This is the last high school game I'll ever play in my life, so I had to play hard for myself and my teammates.
The Wildcat finished with six total tackles and a big tackle for a loss in the second quarter that helped stall out a potential South scoring drive.
"I love to compete, show out and try to make a name for myself especially when people come out and watch," Davis said. "You team needs you, so when you understand it's not about you, it really brings it out of me. I really clicked with these guys. I loved playing with the guys on my team. It was a great experience and a great week."