They assumed their glory days would extend from their various Arlington County youth teams and then the Beacon House Falcons in the District, but in seventh grade, Brown left Williamsburg Middle School and moved to Stafford County with his mother. He later attended Brooke Point High.
Stewart, a grade younger, remained in Arlington and enrolled at private school O’Connell as a freshman.
But when Yorktown faces South County in a Virginia AAA Northern Region Division 5 semifinal Friday, the No. 11 Patriots will be led by the reunited duo of talented running backs.
Stewart left O’Connell to attend Yorktown his sophomore year, and several weeks later, Kendra Brown allowed her son to move back to Arlington to live with his father and attend Yorktown, seeking a fresh start after his grades had slipped at Brooke Point.
Brown arrived too late to play for the team last year, but this fall, he and Stewart have helped the Patriots post a second consecutive unbeaten regular season.
So Stewart and Brown went from a tandem as kids, to miles apart, to lining up in the same backfield and in the same secondary for one precious season. The two are so inseparable, they even sleep in the same room during the many nights Brown spends at Stewart’s home with M.J. and Marvin Stewart Sr.
“They’re not blood-related, but they’re brothers,” Yorktown junior quarterback Will Roebuck said. “They’re as close as it gets.”
It’s just like the old days, only with higher football stakes and a heightened appreciation.
“Life is crazy,” Brown said one day recently after practice. “It’s a small world. It’s great being back with him, coming back to the same place where I grew up.”
“I always thought he would come back,” Stewart said in a separate chat. “Just the fact that we’d been playing for a long time together, and I thought eventually our paths would cross again. And thank God they did. We’re just so close and he’s like a brother to me. So it’s nice to play with a brother, you know?”
Their paths, or running lanes, indeed cross on the field. The 5-foot-8, 167-pound Brown, shifty and powerful, would be the featured back on many teams but moved to fullback to yield to the 5-foot-11, 182-pound Stewart, a sleek recruit with several ACC scholarship offers.
Together they have combined for 2,030 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns on 246 carries. They also have six touchdowns between them on 22 receptions, and while Brown’s contributions have cut into Stewart’s stats, they have made for a fresher top back. Despite averaging just 14 carries per game, Stewart is the National District offensive player of the year; he and Brown are first-team all-district defensive backs.