Apparently, the red T-shirt in question meant an awful lot to the Payne brothers.

Wesley wanted to wear it, and had it in his hands, as did Landry.

It is unclear if either of them wore it on the way to see the doctor when Wesley had to get stitches on the back of his head around the age of 5 after one of their numerous dust ups, but the toughness and competition wrought from such a young age is serving the Mountain Pointe duo well now as the Pride (3-4) travel to Yuma Kofa (1-6) tonight.

"They are real football players and they are physical," Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. "They can play anywhere on the field. They will hit you. They have a toughness and physicalness that we are looking for in our players."

Landry, a 5-foot-9, 157-pound junior, started the year as a cornerback and moved to linebacker when injuries decimated the depth, and is now seeing time in the backfield as well as a lead blocker with the task of taking on a linebacker on every running play.

Wesley, a 5-foot-9, 179-pound sophomore, is now starting at linebacker and getting more and more responsibility carrying the ball to rank third on the team after playing on the freshmen squad last year.

"They are competitors," Pride defensive coordinator Jeff Decker said. "They are all over the field and around the ball. They are just tough kids and I am sure growing up together, and trying to outdo each other all of the time, helped mold their attitudes."

The tandem are known to still let the friction of competition between them boil over today. Maybe not as much when they shared a bedroom growing up in Mesa, but the rivalry is still there.

"We are still battling and he's a hothead," Wesley said. "Ask anyone on the team. We have to be separated in the locker room, but it never lasts."

Landry, who led the junior varsity in rushing last season, said their relationship is no different than when they were battling over who got to wear the infamous red shirt.

"We've always fought a lot and it's no different," he said. "It's about competition. We had to earn everything we wanted because we always wanted to do the same thing. Now, it's just a brother thing."

One place there are no worries is on the field and the inside the huddle.

"We are always on the same page then," Wesley said. "Football is the one thing we always have in common."

After receiving only seven carries through the first three games, Wesley has had 19 attempts since then, including his fourth touchdown of the year last week against Corona del Sol. Defensively, he was used sparingly to start the year, but then when injuries hit he had 16 tackles against Chandler three weeks ago and 15 against Brophy before seeing limited action last week because of the lopsided score.

"It was a big jump from freshmen and it took awhile to get used to it," he said. "It's coming on now. I got more reps, know the plays better, and getting a good feel for it."

Landry's initial start at the varsity level came in the first game against Hamilton and the Huskies tested him. He finished with 11 tackles and a pass defended. The next week he had his first interception against Mesa. He had good games against Chandler and Brophy, too, as he had 10 tackles combined.

In other words, they are bringing that focused, competitive fire against the opposition instead of each other.

And as they grow together, Vaughan hopes their attitudes catch on with the rest of the players in the program.

"They are playing great, and the reason for it is because they simply want it and go after it," he said. "They are getting quality playing minutes on both sides of the ball as young players. They are only going to get better, and they have the right attitude."

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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