By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WINCHESTER -- Jordan Dowrey and his older brother, Derek, have always been competitive.
The sibling rivalry between the two even dates as far back as their birth.
"They're competitive about who weighed the more at birth," Derek Dowrey Sr. said. "They still argue about it. Derek was 12 pounds when he was born, which is insane, but he was two weeks late. And Jordan was 10 days early and was 10 pounds then. So, he says 'I would have been bigger' and they compete about it all the time. It goes all the way back to that."
Derek Dowrey Jr. was a very good player for Handley, where he graduated in 2012. He currently plays at Penn State.
Jordan Dowrey is getting ready to start his senior season at Handley, where he is entering his fourth season. Jordan Dowrey has always looked up to Derek, and has always wanted to do everything his older brother did.
"There's a lot of competition there, definitely, but the thing for me is he's three years older," Jordan Dowrey said. "I'm two grades behind him, so I'm trying to make up that year in age and keep up doing the same thing he did every grade."
Derek Dowrey Sr. said that while it's been tough at times, he thinks Jordan has handled everything really well.
"It's an awfully big shadow," Dowrey Sr. said. "I mean literally and figuratively, Derek casts a big shadow. He wasn't just an older brother like some people have, he was a pretty good older brother. And so it's helped Jordan more than it's hurt him.
"I think overall it's been to his advantage to have Derek as an older brother. Not only to have someone to learn from, and to be inspired by, just because it's a goal to attain. It's something to live up to."
The 6-foot-2 270-pound Jordan Dowrey has certainly left his own mark on Handley's football program. He was a starter at center his freshman season, in which the Judges advanced to the Group AA, Division 3 state semifinals.
Jordan Dowrey said it was a great learning experience for him.
"I was the only [freshman] that was there the whole season, and it was an established group," Jordan Dowrey said. "They had been to the state semifinals the year before that, regional finals the year before that. I was part of something that had been established. Everyone had that expectation, and I just walked in and being a part of that was awesome."
Football has always been a big part of Jordan Dowrey's life not only because his brother played, but also because his father was an assistant football coach and still is.
Jordan said Derek Sr. didn't force him and his brother to play, but it's something they both wanted to do.
"Its a great way to learn," Jordan Dowrey said. "We sit around the dinner table and talk about football and break things down because we want to. Because we like thinking about the game, it's fun for us. It's been a great way to learn more about the game."
Jordan Dowrey plays at guard now on the offensive line, but playing defense is what he likes the most. He plays on the defensive line, and said there's something special about being able to make a big play for his team on that side of the ball.
Jordan Dowrey had 115 tackles and 3.5 sacks last season for the Judges.
In the offseason, Jordan Dowrey went to 13 camps at various colleges and already has scholarship offers from Richmond, UConn and Hampton.
Jordan Dowrey said he's keeping his options open and taking his time with making a final decision, but he's happy to know that he will be playing at the college level. It's something he's wanted to do since going to a Penn State game with his brother on a recruiting trip.
"One of the games I was at visiting with my family and Derek I was like, 'I want to be a part of this,'" Jordan Dowrey said. "And since then I've been doing everything I can to get ready for that."
One thing Jordan has done that his brother didn't was to win a wrestling state title. Jordan Dowrey won the Group AA heavyweight title last year at Salem as a junior. However, Jordan Dowrey said he definitely prefers football over wrestling.
"I don't think I'm a wrestler," Jordan Dowrey said. "I am a football player, that's how it makes the most sense. I wrestle when I wrestle, but I love it. That experience was great last year. Salem's a great place to go. A ton of people, a high level of intensity -- it's a lot of fun."
As he prepares to start his senior year at Handley, Jordan Dowrey said his senior year will be bittersweet. Derek Sr. teaches at the school, and Jordan has grown up around the school since he was a youth.
"I couldn't imagine being at any other school," Jordan Dowrey said. "Honestly, I felt like I belonged at Handley when I was in middle school and elementary school. I grew up in the building. I knew my way around before renovations. I grew up in there.
"For me, it's home as much as anything."
That's part of the reason the last two seasons have bothered Jordan Dowrey so much. Two years ago the Judges went 5-6, losing in the first round of the playoffs. Last year they went 3-7, and it didn't sit well with Jordan Dowrey or his teammates.
Jordan Dowrey said this season the team is focused on turning things around and making sure the program is back on track and in the playoffs again.
"We just have that expectation," Jordan Dowrey said. "The expectation and especially the fuel from last year, just because that kind of eats at you. We had the entire offseason to think about that.
"It was the first year I think in nine years that we weren't in the playoffs. That eats at all of us. It bothers us. [Handley head] coach [Tony] Rayburn had a pretty good streak going and I hate that I was on the team that ruined it."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org