By Rubin E. Grant
In the third quarter of Homewood’s season-opening football game at Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa with the Patriots trailing by two touchdowns, junior quarterback Woods Ray dropped back to pass and was surprised to see who was streaking down the field.
It was his brother, Harvey Ray, Homewood’s senior tight end.
“I wasn’t expecting him to run that route, a go route,” Woods explained. “So, I just threw it up and gave him a chance. He did the rest.”
The 25-yard scoring pass was Harvey’s only reception of the game, but it sparked Homewood’s 37-34 comeback victory against Hillcrest.
“It was a big momentum boost,” Woods said.
The brothers didn’t get to celebrate the touchdown because Harvey was injured on the play and didn’t return to the game.
“My foot got stuck in the ground and the safety stepped on my ankle,” Harvey said.
Even though the brothers, dubbed “The Rays of Light” by some Homewood fans, had to forego the usual post-touchdown celebration, they were thrilled to finally make a TD connection in a varsity game.
“It was awesome,” Harvey said. “Last year, all my touchdown catches came from Brode Susce. To catch one from Woods was really special.
“We spent the offseason working together and it was fun to see that all that hard work paid off.”
The brothers have grown up playing football together, starting when Harvey was in the third grade and Woods was in the second. They haven’t always been a pass-catch duo, however.
Early on, Harvey was a running back and Woods was an offensive lineman, playing center and right guard.
“We had a weight limit, and I was always bigger than the other kids. So they gave me a yellow dot on my helmet, meaning I had to play on the line,” Woods said.
By the time he reached sixth grade, Woods had thinned out and moved to quarterback, the result of a strong arm he had displayed playing baseball.
Harvey moved from the backfield to wide receiver and eventually wound up at tight end in the ninth grade.
Homewood head coach Ben Berguson likes the versatility Harvey, who is 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, gives the Patriots.
“We can attack with him at tight end, or line him up in the backfield or flex him out as a receiver,” Berguson said. “That’s what is good about him. He can do multiple things.”
Woods, 6-2, 200 pounds, split time at quarterback with Susce last year as a sophomore before taking over as the full-time starter this season after Susce graduated. In Homewood’s first two games, including a 9-7 victory against rival Vestavia Hills, Woods accounted for 567 yards total offense (402 passing, 165 rushing) and five touchdowns (four passing and one rushing).
“He sees the field real well and he can hurt you with his feet or his arm,” Berguson said. “When we played Vestavia, he was the best athlete on the field. And he’s a team leader.”
Woods already has received a scholarship offer from UAB, but Berguson believes he could become a NCAA Division I Power 5 conference prospect. “He’s the real deal,” Berguson said.
Harvey caught three passes for 31 yards and a touchdown in the first two games. He also is being recruited by several schools, including UAB, Middle Tennessee State, Liberty and Wake Forest.
“I think it’s going to be a tough choice to decide where I am going,” Harvey said, “but I want to get through the high school season first.”
The brothers wouldn’t mind if they wound up at the same school at the next level.
“It’s fun practicing with him and playing catch with him,” Woods said.
“We’ve been like best friends growing up,” Harvey said.
So, who’s better at their respective position?
“I think he’s a heck of a quarterback, but I think I’m better at my position,” Harvey said with a bit of a chuckle. “He’s better at contributing to the team because he’s the quarterback. We’re both super competitive, though.”
The brothers would like nothing better than to lead Homewood to a state championship in their final high school season as teammates.
The Patriots opened play in Class 6A, Region 5 last Friday at McAdory and visit Chelsea in another region game this Friday.
“Our goal is to win the region, then make a run in the playoffs,” Harvey said.
“We’re really looking at winning the state championship but also having fun and competing,” Woods said.