It’s technically not the third straight week for a sibling-rivalry matchup involving Wake Forest’s football team.
But really, it is.
Jamie Newman, Wake Forest’s emerging star quarterback, and John Lamot, Boston College’s starting middle linebacker, are cousins.
Their connection, though, runs thicker than that — to the point that they were referred to as “two little old men” while growing up together. That’s how Newman’s dad, Willie Bigelow, describes it, a nod to how Newman and Lamot could ride in the back of a van to AAU basketball practices during their formative years and talk between themselves. They were never a problem. They just had to be stuck in the back seat together, and they would talk all the way to those practices for the Greensboro Gaters.
In reality, several years since those AAU rides, they’re now two young men who hold the ultimate respect for one another — but who relish another opportunity to line up against each other.
“He’s like a fourth brother to me,” said Lamot, who has three older brothers. “My older brothers would look out for him. We would all look out for each other.”
For Newman, an only child, there was a natural connection to the Lamots.
“Not only (John) but his older brothers, Ali, Asad, Hassan, they were always there,” Newman said. “Being an only child, you always had to go find other friends to play with and stuff like that. And when you go to the Lamot house, it was five, six boys there all the time.
“So it’s always fun to play and compete and play video games with each other,” Newman said.
As remarkable as his on-field performance has been, Newman’s poise as Wake Forest’s quarterback might be the most impressive thing about him. He has led three go-ahead touchdown drives in the final two minutes of games, including his first start last season against N.C. State.
Newman, a redshirt junior, maintains, as national attention to his skill set grows, that the only statistic he wants to be noticed for is winning — and only if proper attention and credit goes to his teammates, too.
An assist for Newman’s outlook, though, goes to the Lamots. Bigelow made it infinitely clear — crediting former Wake Forest defensive lineman Ali Lamot for helping on math homework, Hassan for helping him control his emotions and Asad for training Newman in basketball. After about a minute of talking to Bigelow about his son, the gratitude toward John Lamot Sr. and Marian Lamot and his family is obvious.
This will be different from the Sept. 13 matchup of brothers Sage Surratt of Wake Forest and Chazz Surratt of North Carolina in the fact that Newman and Lamot have both played with and against each other. It’s also different from the Freudenthal brothers meeting last week, with Jack Freudenthal of Wake Forest and Luke Freudenthal of Elon separated by three years in age.
Whereas the Surratts were a record-setting quarterback-wide receiver duo and the Freudenthals played together for one season in high school, Newman and John Lamot went from being peewee football and AAU basketball teammates to fierce competitors on opposite sides in high school.
Competing with or against each other, it’s proven to never change their bond — not even when, in a thrilling 56-49 game in high school, Lamot (playing quarterback for Eastern Alamance) scored the final points on a 2-point conversion and flipped the ball to Newman, who was playing defense for Graham.
“He flipped the rock to me. … We laugh about it though,” Newman said. “That’s just how we are, nothing disrespectful. … This is something we’ve done for many years. It’s just another day, we don’t take it personally, we don’t take it no further than we have to.
“We compete on the field and then we’re still brothers after that.”
They’re still teaming up and facing off against each other. In the summer, Newman and Lamot can be found on a basketball court together.
“Summer break, we play one-on-one all the time when we get a chance,” Newman said. “Just to compete, get some exercise, some cardio, have fun. We’re both ex-basketball players, so it’s always fun when we get back out there a little bit.”
They don’t just play one-on-one in the summers, though. Newman and Lamot will sometimes team up in two-on-two games and play the “old heads” — Lamot’s wording for his brothers — or find some friends around Alamance County to play with. Daniel Graves, a high school teammate of Newman’s and all-state kick and punt returner at Graham, is a frequent player in those games.
“When we’re back home, we’re always going at it,” Lamot said. “Two-on-twos, it gets real intense. … If we’re on the same team, we’re always arguing. But it’s all good. Playing against each other, there’s always a discrepancy, but it’s all fun.
“It’s all fun.”
The other bonding over the summer, Bigelow said, is when Newman and Lamot spend the night at Bigelow’s mom’s house. In the morning, they’re served pancakes.
This will be the fourth meeting of Wake Forest and Boston College with each player at their respective schools, but the first one in which they will actually line up against each other. With Newman at quarterback on offense and Lamot at middle linebacker on defense, they’re going to be staring at each other across the line of scrimmage.
There doesn’t figure to be any trash talk, though — that’s reserved for those one-on-one games.
“We like to keep it clean. Unless we’re playing one-on-one, then that’s when we get to trash-talking,” Newman said. “Other than that, we keep it clean, leave the game where it’s at.”
It’s not just sports that links these two, either, though it is the dominant theme. Video games are also involved here: Newman and Lamot play various versions the “NBA 2K” basketball games and “Fortnite” together.
Lamot gives the nod to Newman as the better “2K” player because Lamot doesn’t have the latest version yet.
For those unfamiliar with “Fortnite,” it’s not so much a game to play against friends but more about teamwork — so who’s the better player, instead of who wins more often?
“‘Fortnite,’ I’ma have to take that,” Lamot said.
And if Newman were asked who’s better at “Fortnite,” he’ll say he’s the better one?
“He’ll probably tell you, but it’s not the facts,” a laughing Lamot said. “He knows that I’ve got the skills, though.”
So, maybe “Fortnite: bragging rights will be mentioned on the field today. Maybe not.
What’s guaranteed is that cousins on opposite sides will, when the game ends, return to being just like brothers.