There’s really no debate, at least at the moment.
Ask Austin and Blake Griffin who’s faster, and you’ll get a quick response.
“Oh yeah, it’s already been decided,” Blake said. “I beat ‘ole brother over here.”
“He’s got me beat in speed,” Austin quickly replied, “but I’m hoping to catch him a little bit.”
The siblings have squared off since their younger years, racing against one another at home to crown a champion and improve their quickness.
“That’s our thing,” Austin said. “Dad loves speed and we love to get better. Play the game fast and we love to work off each other to get faster.”
The competitive sprints have translated to game action so far during the 2020 high school football season. The Griffin brothers, running backs for the Montrose Indians, experienced a rarity among siblings in the same program: playing together and scoring in the same game.
“It’s exciting,” Austin said. “I love seeing him succeed and it’s fun to succeed together on the same team. Obviously, we can’t do any of it without the awesome blocking from our offensive line and our awesome coaching staff.”
“It’s definitely really cool to play and build off each other’s energy,” Blake added.
Parents Jessica and Al Griffin, counselor and teacher at Centennial Middle School, were on hand to see their sons combine for 116 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
“They both have worked really hard to get to that point,” said Al on watching his sons’ success together. “A lot of their success comes from the great offensive line that they have in front of them. That’s helped them out a bunch too, and the coaches have put together a great bunch of kids.”
“As a parent, it’s obviously a lot of fun to have both our boys on the field together — just really fun to watch and see them contribute to the team’s success,” Jessica said.
Continuing to see opportunities during the following week’s contest against Palmer Ridge, the Griffin brothers were at it again. Austin scored twice in the first half, and Blake dashed towards the endzone on a 46-yard run in the third quarter for his second touchdown of the season.
The two seemed destined to eventually share the field together at the high school level.
Blake, while in second grade, joined the sport with flag football. Austin, in fourth grade, also played flag.
Before the start of this season, Austin wasn’t sure what Blake’s role would look like, considering it’s not often a freshman gets several touches at the varsity level. But Austin, a junior, knew his brother was capable of making an immediate impact on an Indians team that has several running backs.
“Working out with him, I knew he was going to be good,” Austin said. “I didn’t think he was going to get as much playing time, but I’m really happy that he is. I could see his speed and I knew that he was going to play some, and I was excited for him.”
Blake’s early success can be attributed to his ability, but also a mindful eye, picking up cues and tips to enhance his play.
“Almost everything I’ve picked up from him, it’s all been just watching him. He knows so much and plays so well that I learn so much,” Blake said of Austin’s play.
In the summer, the pair often workout together, working through speed training and competing in a friendly manner. It’s a simple, friendly sibling rivalry, and the two are competitive, Al said.
And so far, the results are there. That desire to push and seek the best out of one another has led to the tandem’s success as a running back duo for the Indians this season. Blake worked his way to an immediate spot with the varsity program and Austin has had a chance to excel as one of the Indians’ central runners.
“We really build off each other to compete and get better,” Austin said. “It’s really nice to be able to compete with each other — with that sibling rivalry, we get a lot better.”
“We’re proud of how hard they work in the weight room and on the track to increase their speed and strength,” Jessica said. “We’re just really glad they’ve had the opportunity to be a part of the team and show that they can help.”
Coach Brett Mertens could empathize with how the Griffins feel playing alongside one another. He, too, played with his brother in high school.
“It’s got to be fun for them to be brothers,” said Mertens postgame following the win against Grand Junction. “I remember I got to play a few games with my brother in high school and it is fun to be on the field together. I thought Austin ran the ball extremely hard, and Blake, being a freshman, for him to be able to contribute on both sides of the ball… it was nice to be able to see him make some plays.”
The uncertainty of the fall season wasn’t lost on Al. Having two kids in the same program, he said it presented a sort of “double whammy” with the season initially postponed, so seeing them both get a chance to play this season has presented a unique opportunity.
Austin and Blake agreed, and while undoubtedly excited to play a season this fall and see what the track season (both will participate this spring) has to offer, an opportunity to match or exceed on the field once again in 2021 is something the pair looks forward to.
“We only get two years to play on the same team, so I think it’s going to be a really good year to look back and see what we did gain,” Austin said. “It’s hard to compare this year to other years, but I think this year is going to be a great building block for next year.”
Josue Perez is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press