This Highland Park football season carries special significance for Parker and Paxton Alexander, and not just because Parker, as the older of the two siblings, will graduate next May.
Although both have been playing football since they were very young, this fall is the first time they’ve ever been on the same team. At a school such as HP, with a varsity roster so large that it’s almost exclusively restricted only to juniors and seniors, it’s rare that two siblings get to play together.
But the Alexander brothers are just 15 months apart in age. And because they play different positions, Parker (a senior receiver) and Paxton (a junior running back) have even shared the field several times this season.
“We’ve been looking forward to this for so long,” Parker said. “It’s the only year our dad can go to the same field and watch us play.”
But the football field isn’t the only one they get to share. Parker and Paxton were each standouts on last season’s varsity lacrosse team at HP. In fact, both have already committed to play lacrosse in college for major programs — Parker at North Carolina and Paxton at Michigan.
The siblings come from an athletic family. Their father played linebacker at Arkansas and their mother is active in tennis. Their paternal grandfather played football at Texas A&M.
The brothers each grew up as running backs before Parker switched to slot receiver last season. Paxton saw some varsity action after being elevated from the JV squad late in the season, but Parker was injured, so they never saw the field together.
“Parker has recovered from a very serious ankle injury to give us a breakaway runner and receiver,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “He has the ability to break tackles and outrun the defense. We need him in the lineup.”
Paxton has been even more dynamic this season, becoming a threat both in the backfield and as a kick returner. He scored two touchdowns during a season-opening win over Rockwall.
“He catches the ball out of the backfield and makes big plays. He’s fast and quick so he can beat man coverage. He also gives us a change of pace in the backfield as a running back.”
The Alexanders know firsthand that being involved in two elite athletic programs simultaneously — and that doesn’t even count powerlifting — can be daunting. Last spring, for example, they worked out with the football team during the final period every day before heading to after-school lacrosse practice. And neither one was easy.
“Lacrosse is great because it helps you stay in shape,” Parker said. “It helps you physically and mentally. It’s a beating on your body but it makes you stronger.”
Participation in spring sports is more common among football players at HP than at other schools. Many of the Scots are involved in lacrosse or baseball, or even basketball or soccer in the winter.
Parker said that besides the physical benefits, such a schedule also helps develop organizational and time-management skills.
“In general, I believe in multi-sport participation as opposed to specialization,” Allen said. “There are lots of similarities between football and lacrosse so that they complement each other.”
Their attention for this fall, however, has been squarely on the gridiron, where the siblings hope to be part of a deep postseason run for the Scots.
“When I’m on the field, I know he has my back and he knows I have his,” Paxton said. “It would be really special to share a state championship.”