LOS ANGELES — Devin Lucien will play against one of his best friends in Su’a Cravens on Saturday. Several other players will play against their former teammates, kids they played against during camps and even as far back as Pop Warner football.
This is what sets the UCLA-USC rivalry apart from other college football rivalries in the country. With only 12 miles that separate the two schools, family and neighborly ties and every other tie in Southern California comes into play.
In an area as talent-rich as Southern California, kids that don’t want to go far don’t have too. Allegiances aren’t relegated to certain parts of the city — from Ventura down to San Diego and from Santa Monica over to San Bernardino homes are checkered with blue and cardinal flags often dividing neighborhoods or even sometimes households. Last year’s matchup featured brothers Tevin and T.J. McDonald. This year’s, like so many others, will face two families that set aside their longtime friendship for one day.
“I’m hella excited,” Lucien said. “I get to play Su’a, too. Su’a’s and my parents are super close and I played against him in high school so playing against him is going to be fun. I know a lot of people on that team, Victor Blackwell, Marquise (Lee), all of them. It’s real.”
Lucien and Cravens have not talked to one another this week — the smack talk is best left for the field. The Cravens and the Luciens will not be sitting together on Saturday. Lucien made it abundantly clear that he plans on scoring touchdowns — plural — at the Coliseum.
“I’m sure my parents aren’t going to sit in the middle of a whole bunch of USC fans,” Lucien said. “If for some reason I score and they’re cheering. Yeah, it would just be bad.”
The last time him and Cravens played on the same field? Lucien answered that question almost too quickly.
“I played against him at Vista Murrieta. I scored three touchdowns on him,” Lucien said. “I remember it.”