COLUMBIANA-Salem senior wide receiver Marcus Crittenden has been best friends with his Quaker teammate linebacker Logan Taylor for as long as he can remember.
When the duo takes the field together at Springfield High School next Friday for the 35th annual Penn-Ohio Stateline Classic, they hope it won't be for the last time.
Crittenden-who will play football at Hiram College this fall-is trying his best to persuade Taylor to join him.
"I've been trying to get Logan to come up and play with me next year," Crittenden laughed. "I think I'm starting to convince him. he said he's going to try and get ahold of the coaches."
For his part, Taylor is non-committal about whether he will try to continue his football career past next Friday's game.
"It's going to be a last minute decision," Taylor said. "I've battled back injuries this year, and a lot of it will depend on how I do Friday and if I feel healthy enough to play. I haven't looked at any other schools."
Crittenden and Taylor-who say they have been friends since kindergarten-have seen their bond grow over the years through football.
"Marcus and I have gotten a lot closer through football these last few years," Taylor said. "Obviously we didn't win as many games as we wanted, but it was a lot of fun playing with him and everybody else on the team."
"I played varsity as a freshman, which was a great experience," Crittenden said, "But at the same time, I missed playing with Logan and the rest of my classmates. We had fun playing together."
Together, Taylor and Crittenden provided an athletic jolt for Quaker teams that struggled to a 3-17 record the last two years with one Northeastern Buckeye Conference win.
During the 2013 season, Taylor-who also saw occasional duty at safety-flew all around the field on his way to a team-high 126 tackles. The Quaker defense gave up 60, 63 and 74 points during one three game stretch, but Taylor was a bright spot.
"It got tough at times," Taylor said. "But I don't think we ever quit on ourselves, which was big. The whole team stayed pretty upbeat."
Crittneden proved to be a versatile asset for the Quakers, using his speed to make an impact at receiver, defensive back and on special teams. He saved his best game for last, racking up 244 yards of total offense and three touchdowns as the Quakers beat archrival West Branch 48-33 for their first conference win since 2011.
"To go out with a game like that was huge," Crittenden said. "I'll remember it forever. We didn't win a lot over the last couple of years, but I learned to not worry about record so much and to still enjoy having fun on the field."
Crittenden and Taylor will try to have as much fun as possible on Friday, hoping it won't be the last time they are on the field together, but playing like it might.
"Coming into this year, Logan and I thought it would be our last year together," Crittenden said. "But the possibility we might play in college together is really exciting. I think it would be one of the best experiences I've had."
"It might be the last game I play, it might not," Taylor said. "I just want to go out there and make the most of my opportunity to play on this team."
Crittenden-who is not running track at Hiram-was a part of two state-qualifying (2012, 2014) 1600-meter relay teams for the Salem boys track team. Which sport does he prefer?
"I love scoring touchdowns and hitting people," Crittenden said. "But it's hard to beat going to state. In that aspect, I would have to say I like track more.
Crittenden played on the Quakers last state playoff team as a freshman in 2010. He was a teammate of quarterback Trent Toothman, who played linebacker at Ball State before leaving the team due to knee injuries.
"Obviously going from making the playoffs as a freshman to not getting back again is tough," Crittenden said. "It doesn't get much better playing with an athlete like Toothman. After that season, we thought we might have a chance to get back, but we knew it would be hard to have a team as good as that one."