RED SPRINGS — Sharing handshakes and hugs inside Red Springs High School’s gymnasium on Monday, Wade Monroe and Kenston Oxendine were proud to have one final moment as teammates during their signing ceremony.
This fall, that friendship will be tested as the two go their separate ways to rival schools.
“Kenston will always be my brother,” said Monroe, who signed to play football at Fayetteville State University. “But if we get on the field and he has on opposite colors than me, then I have to unleash it on him. I look forward to it.”
While Monroe was signing his national letter of intent to join the Broncos, Oxendine put pen to paper to show his allegiance to Johnson C. Smith University, a rival of Fayetteville State in the CIAA’s Southern Division.
“It’s going to be a lot of love between us, but it’s football,” Oxendine said. “I love him, but the Golden Bulls have to take that ‘W.’”
A pair of all-TRC and all-Robeson County performers for the Red Devils, Monroe and Oxendine will get their first crack at each other on Oct. 14 when Fayetteville State travels to Johnson C. Smith.
“It should be fun,” Monroe said. “I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
The Broncos finished with a 4-6 record last season, including a 37-21 victory over the Golden Bulls. Johnson C. Smith finished just behind Fayetteville State, posting a 3-7 mark.
For Monroe, Fayetteville State offered a chance to be close to home — a key factor in his decision.
“I feel like Fayetteville State was the place for me,” he said. “My mom and my brother are alums so I know the place. I feel like I’m a mama’s boy and I don’t want to be too far from home. If I need something, to get my clothes washed or something, I only have a short ride right down the road.”
As for football, Monroe said he expects to be used as a long snapper and linebacker this fall. It’s an opportunity that looked dim roughly two years ago.
“I worked so hard to get here,” he said. “Having the (knee) injury my junior year, I came back working and now I’m signing to go to college. It means a lot to me.”
Oxendine said he made his college choice over the weekend after visiting Johnson C. Smith’s campus in Charlotte.
“I really got a good vibe when I visited,” Oxendine said. “It’s a nice campus with friendly people. They want me to be a defensive tackle and I’m fine with that.”
Like Monroe, Oxendine wasn’t sure he would have the opportunity to play college football.
“It’s surreal. For a while there, I didn’t think it was going to come,” he said. “I held out the longest during my recruitment and it worked out.”
As he congratulated both of his former players, Red Springs football coach Lawrence Ches smiled, acknowledging the new rivalry but reminding the duo to remember their roots.
“You’re going to be your teammate’s rival,” Ches said. “You may be becoming a Golden Bull, and you may be becoming a Bronco. … you’ll always be a Red Devil and you’ll always be brothers.
“Now, you have a little friendly rivalry.”