Few things create a better competitive sports atmosphere than two brothers going back-and-forth in a sibling rivalry.
Second to brotherhood, close friends often go toe-to-toe to sharpen their athletic skills and build teammate chemistry.
Combine the two and you’ll get Tate’s Sawyer Smith and Jake Henry, a quarterback/wide receiver duo whose older brothers (Austen Smith, Cody Henry) were both local prep stars at Catholic High within the last five years.
Sawyer Smith and Jake Henry said they have been friends since their “tee-ball days” and now the two have helped lead Tate to the 6A state semifinals (vs. Seffner Armwood on Friday). The dynamic duo have linked up for 902 yards through the air — accounting for 42 percent of Smith’s passing production.
“I always kind of wanted to be just like my brother (Austen),” said Sawyer Smith, whose older brother played baseball at Alabama and now plays first base under the Miami Marlin’s organization for the Greensboro Grasshoppers. “Austen was a star at Catholic and was the PNJ player of the year … I wanted that.”
With Sawyer’s (18) and Austen’s (23) age gap being greater than the Henry brothers (Jake 17, Cody 20) … the Henry’s had a bit more room for backyard competition growing up.
While both Jake and Cody Henry always held a passion for football, Jake Henry took up basketball while Cody Henry (current Alabama infielder) proved later that baseball would be his sport of choice.
“Yeah, we were very competitive,” Jake Henry said. “We always played sports wherever we were. I’d go out and throw (baseball) with him … he’d come shoot around with me. It was always some kind of competition.”
However, both Jake Henry and Sawyer Smith are Tate Aggies at heart … unlike their older Crusader brothers.
“That was a big decision on my mind in eighth grade,” Jake Henry said. “Tate and Catholic were the main places I was thinking about. Cody said he liked it at Catholic and I always liked going to his games. I thought it was a good place. But everything worked out for me at Tate … I enjoy being an Aggie.”
As for the Smiths, once Sawyer solidified his primary sport as football, he said he didn’t feel the pressure of living up to his brother’s accomplishments. At one point, Sawyer was following in his brother’s footsteps on the baseball diamond and had issued a verbal pledge to play baseball at Alabama as a sophomore.
But now with his plans to attend Troy to play football, he’s certainly blazed his own, unique path.
“Football … I kind of fell in love with it,” Sawyer Smith said. “I never really felt any pressure with football. No one in our family was really good at football.”