COLLEGE PARK, Ga. — They are close friends off the field and future teammates at South Carolina. Last Friday night, however, Bryson Allen-Williams and Terry Googer were rivals one last time.
Googer's Woodward Academy defeated Allen-Williams' Cedar Grove High 17-14 in a game that would help decide playoff seeding. Each admitted that having another South Carolina commitment on the other team would add an extra element to the already important game.
It was Googer who walked away with bragging rights as he and Allen-Williams added another chapter to their friendship.
"I get to talk a lot of junk next year," said Googer, who threw a touchdown pass to give him a 2-1 edge in three games against Allen-Williams' team with both as starters. "I won the series. He's going to hear it a lot."
At linebacker, Allen-Williams had 13 tackles last weekend and forced a fumble on Googer during a handoff early in the game. The Saints turned the ball back over to the War Eagles a few plays later.
Googer, who will switch from quarterback to wide receiver at South Carolina, later drew Allen-Williams offsides on fourth-down-and-1 on a drive in which Woodward would score. He finished with 75 yards passing and 80 more yards on the ground. Competition and the importance of the game made it easy to set aside their friendship for four quarters, both agreed.
"In between those lines he's still playing for Woodward Academy and I still play for Cedar Grove," Allen-Williams said. "No matter what happens next year. Right now I'm trying to win a ring at Cedar Grove, so I'm not going to let anyone stand in the way of that."
Cedar Grove and Woodward compete in Region 6 of Georgia's Class 3A. The schools are about 12 miles apart in adjacent Atlanta-area counties.
USC linebackers coach Kirk Botkin took in this year's game. Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward, who recruited both players for the Gamecocks, watched their 2012 matchup.
Allen-Williams and Googer knew each other from their annual in-region rivalry and became close friends after their junior seasons. The two played in the Rising Seniors all-star game, which features 100 of the top juniors in Georgia.
"We took off and developed a relationship and that bond hasn't been broken since," Allen-Williams said.
They also shared another key connection: Both were recruiting targets of the Gamecocks.
Allen-Williams committed in April and began to recruit Googer to join him in Columbia. Googer followed with his pledge to USC in August, but not without giving Allen-Williams a scare.
"He told me the night before he committed, 'I might not be able to come to South Carolina with you, but I hope we're still friends.' I was in total shock," Allen-Williams recalled.
The next day he followed Googer's announcement with unexpected uncertainty.
"Terry had on that South Carolina hat and said he was going to be a Gamecock," he said. "That was huge news to me. Everybody else knew except for me. Now Terry is like my brother."
Last weekend was an opportunity to bask in the present and still look ahead to seasons to come. After their game, the two were at Williams-Brice Stadium 14 hours later for South Carolina's game against Mississippi State.
Allen-Williams wants to be roommates with Googer as freshmen in 2014. With some good fortune, Allen-Williams said, they'll be joined by cornerback Wesley Green and defensive end Dante Sawyer - both Atlanta-area USC recruiting targets.
Allen-Williams and Googer talk at least twice a week, and that conversation often includes their futures at USC.
"We're close," Googer said. "It's going to be amazing. I'm ready for it."