Greg Gooch and Nico Firios of Longwood Lyman High are two of the top linebackers in the state and a rare double at their position on the same team. (CHRIS HAYS/ORLANDO SENTINEL / May 30, 2013)
Nico Firios and Greg Gooch may argue with each other about who’s the better football player.
It’s certainly a good argument.
The two bookend linebackers at Longwood Lyman High have created that same quandary for college football scouts rolling in and out of the Greyhounds’ football practices this spring.
Each scout knows which one he likes better and some are vocal about it. Some try to keep it to themselves, trying not to let the others know which player they are recruiting.
“I’m faster than him,” Firios says within earshot of his bookend counterpart.
“That’s OK, baby … he brings the speed and I bring the impact,” Gooch retorts.
That’s not enough, however. Firios needs the last word on this one.
“I bring both,” he said.
They love to chide each other, and their good-natured fun carries over to a teamwork concept on the Lyman defense that second-year head coach Jeff Gierke relishes.
“You get two guys like that … you don’t get them very often,” Gierke said of the two Football Bowl Subdivision college prospects. “Greg is our emotional guy, and Nico is the one that keeps everyone in line.
“They go out there and they make these plays and everybody else wants to do the same thing … it’s a motivating factor and it’s great for these younger guys to see what it should look like. They’re extra coaches out there for me.”
Last season, Tony Stevens and Dominic Walker were a similar tandem at Orlando Evans. They both were NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision talents, both All-Americans and they’ll both still be teammates at Auburn next season.
“It’s pretty rare ... I’ve been doing this for a long time and in the case of Tony and Dominic that’s the first time it had ever happened with me,” said Evans coach Chip Gierke, who is the uncle of the Lyman coach. “What made it so neat about Tony and Dominic was that these kids have known each other their whole lives growing up in the Pine Hills area and playing Pop Warner and that’s a pretty neat story ... and now they’ll be playing together at Auburn.”
Firios and Gooch are possibly the best linebacker tandem in the state and they feed off each other. Firios is a little leaner at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, and Gooch is 6-foot-2, 235. They are ranked Nos. 8 and 9 in the current 2014 Central Florida Super60.
They probably razz each other about their rankings, as well.
When it comes to college scholarship offers, however, they say there’s no jealousy.
“I’m right behind him. If he has seven offers and I don’t have any, I’m good with that. It motivates me to be just like him,” Gooch said.