Volleyball

Opposing brothers face off in MCC-Holy Trinity rivalry

The similarities between Holy Trinity and Melbourne Central Catholic enhance the sports rivalries between the two Brevard County private schools.

Lavonte Valentine evades Cocoa Beach defenders last week.

Lavonte Valentine evades Cocoa Beach defenders last week.

They’ll meet Friday in a District 6-3A football game that could be the most significant in their season because of its impact on their pursuit of a district title.

One aspect of the rivalry is more like that of a neighborhood rivalry, in that some of the players know each other and even played youth sports together.

Friday, that will be taken a step further, because brothers will be wearing opposing uniforms, both promising running backs.

LaAnthony Valentine carries the ball for the Holy Trinity football team in practice. His brother plays at Melbourne Central Catholic.

LaAnthony Valentine carries the ball for the Holy Trinity football team in practice. His brother plays at Melbourne Central Catholic.

Lavonte Valentine made his MCC name in the spring when he placed third in Class 2A track and field in the 100 meters and posted a best time of 10.57 seconds.

The junior showed that same speed with an 85-yard touchdown run against Satellite two weeks ago as the Hustlers picked up their second of three wins.

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On the northern end of Melbourne, ninth-grader La Anthony Valentine already has a 75-yard kickoff return, a 25-yard touchdown run and a 28-yard interception return for a touchdown, two games into his Holy Trinity season.

The kickoff return came with the Tigers (2-0) trailing St. Bernard’s of Eureka, California, by three touchdowns in the season opener. La Anthony’s team went on to win, 31-28.

“That changed the momentum,” Holy Trinity coach Nate Hooks said. “You give him an inch, he’s gone.”

A year ago, he was in the stands for varsity games, watching his older brother, wishing he were in high school.

“He was a leader to me. Just watching him, I wanted to be like him,” La Anthony said. “I want to be better now.”

The two have played pickup football with friends, and Lavonte convinced his AAU track coach to let his younger brother join their Orlando-based Florida Elite squad.

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Both competed in AAU Junior Nationals track and field in Houston during the summer. Lavonte won his 100-meter semifinal and placed fifth in the final at 10.68 seconds. Both ran on relays, though not together.

Afterward, Lavonte advised La Anthony on what to expect from high school football.

“He just told me that it’s not going to be like little league. Everybody is fast.”

When La Anthony, who lives in Melbourne with his mother, enrolled at Holy Trinity, Lavonte, who lives in Palm Bay with his grandmother, decided to transfer there to play with his younger brother.

A few days later, he decided he would miss his teammates and classmates, so he again enrolled at MCC.

“It just wasn’t home,” Lavonte said.

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Both could find a future home in college sports. Lavonte is two years closer to finding out his athletic scholarship potential, but MCC coach Stacy Sizemore has been impressed with what he’s seen from a guy who can play defensive back, linebacker, receiver, running back or punt returner. And then, of course, he has two-sport appeal with track and football.

“He’s going to get a lot of attention because of how fast he is,” Sizemore said. “The more he develops himself, the more options he’ll have to do one or the other or both.”

Asked to compare their styles, Sizemore paused to think and smiled widely. “They’re both fast,” he said.

It’s clear La Anthony respects his older brother, but he sees their styles differently.

“He might catch better. He’s faster. I can say that, but I’m a better football player. He’s a track guy (first).”

Lavonte understood that perspective, but he saw himself as a football player, too.

And whether it was because of his superior size — 6-foot-2, 190 pounds to La Anthony’s 5-9, 165 — or just because of brotherly love, he predicted a Friday night collision between the two would be unlikely.

“When I’m on defense, he definitely won’t come at me,” Lavonte said.

Contact McCallum at 321-242-3698 or bmccallum@floridatoday.com. Follow facebook.com/FLtoday.brianmccallum and @Brian_McCallum on Twitter.

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Thursday’s result

Astronaut at Port Orange Atlantic, 7

Friday’s games

Palm Bay at Rockledge, 7

Space Coast at Merritt Island, 7

Eau Gallie at Heritage, 7

Titusville at Satellite, 7

Holy Trinity at Melbourne Central Catholic, 7

St. Augustine at Melbourne, 7

Bayside at Jensen Beach, 7

Lake Highland Prep at Cocoa, 7

Kathleen at Viera, 7

Halifax Academy at Cocoa Beach, 7

International Community at Merritt Island Christian, 7

High school sports | floridatoday.com/sports/high-school-sports/

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