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Submitted Photo

Cousins Ashton Savage, left, and Kobe Savage, right, play together for the Tyler Junior College Apaches. Pictured, they pose with Kobe Savage’s father and Ashton Savage’s uncle, Da’on Savage.

From a very young age, cousins Kobe and Ashton Savage could be seen with one another, usually with a pigskin in the hands of one or both. The pair practically lived and breathed football, so it was no surprise that the duo went on to play together and make names for themselves as Paris High Wildcats. Slightly more surprising, though, is that they’ve been able to stick together and do the same now as Tyler Junior College Apaches.

For Kobe and Ashton, the pair got their first taste of competitive football playing for the Boys and Girls Club, though they grew up around the game and were well acquainted with it before that. The pair took an immediate liking to it, and flourished when they arrived at Paris High School.

“We started playing when we were in the third grade down at the Boys and Girls Club, and it seems like we’ve just always had a football in our hands ever since then,” Ashton Savage said.

While Paris Wildcats, the duo shined. And when their high school careers came to a close, each had excelled enough to continue their athletic careers at the next level. Kobe Savage went to Texas A&M-Commerce, and Ashton Savage signed with the Navarro Bulldogs.

Both eventually began looking for a change of scenery, though, as Kobe Savage decided a junior college would be the better setting for him to hone his onfield skills, and Ashton Savage sought a transfer to Trinity Valley Community College.

“I was at Commerce for the fall of 2019 and the spring of 2020, but I thought about it a lot and had a long talk with my family, and I really just felt like a junior college was the best fit for me,” Kobe Savage said.

Things worked out with him and Tyler Junior College, and before long he was on his way to playing for the Apaches. He saw an opportunity to play again with his cousin, and he encouraged Ashton to look for a transfer to TJC as well.

“It took me a whole year to get released, so when that finally happened, I got in contact with the coaches over here in Tyler and then Kobe got me on up here,” Ashton Savage said.

Once arriving at TJC, it didn’t take long for both to make their presence felt.

As a defensive back, Kobe Savage has proven to be one of the central pieces of TJC’s secondary, with several interceptions and deflections, and a number of tackles as well. Meanwhile, Ashton Savage has shined on the team’s offensive line.

Their success comes as no surprise to their former high school coach, who’s very familiar with the talent each possesses.

“Kobe is just a pure football player,” Paris head coach Steven Hohenberger said. “He’s got such a great understanding of and feel for the game. His senior year, he never came off the field for us. He was our quarterback and a key part of our defense.

“Ashton is strong and has tremendous size, which really allows him to dominate on the line. He’s a terrific leader, someone everyone in the locker room will look to, and he’s also got that same understanding of the game, where both of them are a

coach’s dream.”

It’s not lost on the cousins how unique it is that they’ve continued to play together past the high school level.

“It’s definitely not something that I thought would’ve been possible when we graduated from Paris,” Kobe Savage said. “I definitely think we’ve grown closer. We spend a lot of time together, and it’s good having someone you can rely on.”

And while their familial bond is only strengthened off the field, playing with one another also pushes each to be even better on the field.

“He’s on offense and I’m on defense, so there’s definitely some of that family rivalry,” Kobe Savage said with a chuckle. “Growing up playing together, it’s something we’ve always kind of had, and I think it makes us better.”

Looking to the future, the pair each said they’re still weighing their options when considering what to do when their two years of junior college eligibility expire. Kobe Savage has received a handful of offers for four-year universities, though he hasn’t made any determinations yet, he said. And Ashton Savage is considering continuing his athletic career as well, but is similarly leaving his options open for the time being.

One thing is certain, though — the pair will make the most of their time playing together.

“I think it’s just fantastic,” Hohenberger said. “They’re making memories that they’ll cherish for the rest of their lives. This is something they’ll always have and remember fondly, and I’m just so happy for both of them.”

Tommy Culkin is sports editor for The Paris News. He can be reached at 903-785-6972 or at tommy.culkin@theparisnews.com.

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