Seneca Valley quarterback Calvin Reighard, right, takes a moment to say hello to former teammate Blake Dove, now with Churchill. “I’m still his good friend and if he needed something I’d be there for him whenever,” Reighard said. (Toni L. Sandys/THE WASHINGTON POST)

Blake Dove, 14, a sophomore at Churchill, knew when he transferred that he would face his old team again.

After a standout freshman season last year as a defensive lineman for Seneca Valley, Dove and his family made a hard choice. Despite leading the Screaming Eagles in tackles, Dove was looking to play on offense. His mom, Sharhonda Dove, was looking for a stronger academic program. So the family moved over the summer so Blake could play at Churchill, where two of his uncles had played. One of them, Landrous Dove, was the Bulldogs’ quarterback for two state championship games.

“I just wanted to play like it was any other game,” Blake said when asked about Friday’s matchup. Others felt differently. The usual high school pregame trash talk escalated on social media. Some attacks became personal, drawing the attention of parents and coaches.

Blake understood that some of his former teammates felt he had let them down by moving, but he knew he was making the right decision for himself.

“To be honest, it was a release when it was over. A relief,” Blake said of the game as he shook hands with his former teammates afterward.

Seneca Valley, which trailed by one point at the start of the fourth quarter, had come back to defeat Churchill, 28-22. After a quick meeting on the field, the undefeated Screaming Eagles took their celebration to the buses behind the stadium. A few players and coaches lingered as they talked with members of the media. Soon, only a handful of Churchill players remained. One Seneca Valley player hung around, waiting for a moment to catch his former teammate.

“I really wanted to talk to him after the game,” said Calvin Reighard, Seneca Valley’s junior quarterback. “I wanted to catch up with an old friend and just talk to him a little bit. Just out of respect to show that him going to Churchill doesn’t affect our friendship. I’m still his good friend and if he needed something I’d be there for him whenever.”

Surrounded by his family and media members, Blake stepped out of the small crowd when Reighard called his name. The friends and former neighbors embraced.

“He knows I’m just doing what’s best for me,” Blake said. “He’s a great dude.”

— Toni L. Sandys

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