When the Shrine Bowl rosters were announced in November, perhaps nobody was happier than former South Carolina linebacker Gerald Dixon.
His sons, defensive linemen Gerald Jr. of Northwestern and Gerald Gervaris Dixon of South Pointe, played for different high schools. When the father was free to watch them play this season – he was an assistant at Rock Hill, so that didn’t happen until the playoffs – he would spend his Fridays watching each of them play a half.
Saturday he’ll finally get to watch an entire game without rushing to his car at halftime. His sons will help anchor the Sandlappers’ 3-4 scheme at defensive end.
It will be the first time the half-brothers have been on the same field as teammates since their father helped coached their Pee-Wee team to a state championship in 2003.
“It’s a great feeling,” Gerald Sr. said. “It’ll be great to watch both of them at the same time instead of picking a place. I think they are happy that they are getting a chance to play together.”
This could ultimately be the first of many games the brothers, who are both considering following in their father’s footsteps at South Carolina, will suit up together. They have maintained throughout the recruiting process that they would like to play together at the next level.
Once they make the transition to the college level, they could line up beside each other. Both Dixons played end this season, though they figure to move inside to tackle next year. South Pointe’s Dixon is perhaps best suited to become a 3-technique tackle and his brother could grow into a nose tackle in a 4-3 defense.
The brothers are rotating this week at defensive end in a scheme that’s somewhat foreign to them. Since South Pointe’s Jadeveon Clowney is at the other end, the Dixons may not find themselves on the field at the same time. However, they’ll still be wearing the same jersey, and that’s what matters most.
“Anytime you can play with your brother, whether it’s for a game or a whole season, is great,” South Pointe coach Bobby Carroll said. “It’s great for the Dixon boys to get a chance to play together. They only live a couple of miles apart. The schools are only a few miles apart.
“I don’t know if [their situation] will ever be duplicated. It’s crazy with both of them having the same names. They’ll have fun and represent the city of Rock Hill, I’m sure.”
The Dixons have already done that throughout their careers.
They helped their schools reach the Class AAAA, Division II championship game as sophomores in 2008. In South Pointe’s decisive victory, they even lined up across from each other on three plays, when Gerald Gervaris entered the game at tight end.
Gerald Jr. and Northwestern came up short again in 2009, losing in a second straight championship game, before winning the title this year against Greenwood. South Pointe advanced to the Class AAA title game in 2010 but fell to Myrtle Beach.
Though they are close and spend much of their free time together, the brothers admit that they aren’t familiar with each others’ playing styles. That may take some time – but they are glad to have the chance.
“It feels great,” Gerald Jr. said. “It reminds me back to the days when we were little and won a state championship together.”
Said Gerald Gervaris: “We’ve been waiting on this opportunity for awhile.”