STILLWATER — Jamie Blatnick used to make frequent visits to Caleb Lavey's house while they were growing up in Celina, Texas.
Blatnick would go over swim or play video games or just hang out — with Lavey's older brother, Josh, and older sister, Courtney.
“Man, I used to hate it when you and your friends used to come over and play Xbox and be mean to me,” Blatnick remembers Lavey telling him years later.
Back then, Blatnick was the big offensive and defensive tackle for one of Texas' most storied high school football programs. Lavey was three years younger and had not yet become the school's starting middle linebacker as a freshman.
Now, the duo is starting for the same defense again, as Blatnick and Lavey have become major contributors for No. 3 Oklahoma State.
And the folks of Celina, a town about 40 miles north of Dallas, are still following the pair.
“They're always talking about them — Lavey on the tackle, Blatnick on the tackle — and saying those guys are from Celina,” said Butch Ford, Blatnick and Lavey's coach at Celina High School. “Everybody's just kind of beaming in Celina because of it.”
Celina fits all the stereotypes of a small Texas town — population: 5,200 — that revolves around its high school football program, which has won eight state titles.
Stores close on Friday nights, and the players become public figures. The school was the subject of a documentary entitled “Power, Passion & Glory” and is featured in Kenny Chesney's “Boys of Fall” music video, where Lavey himself shows up several times.
And for the 2006 season, Blatnick and Lavey were teammates.
Blatnick was already a senior star on both sides of the ball who was fielding offers from OSU, Texas Tech, TCU and Duke. Lavey was the youngest player on the varsity roster who was occasionally picked on by his older teammates but also earned their respect.