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Credit: Chase Sutton

It’s common to see two teammates form a bond so close they become like brothers, but it’s rare to see those teammates turn into rivals. 

Just a year removed from donning the pads together week in and week out, best friends and former Penn sprint football teammates Tom Console and James Juliano now find themselves on opposite sides of a bitter rivalry game.

Quickly after finishing their respective careers playing for the Quakers, both Console and Juliano transitioned into coaching. The two former defensive stars, however, will be coaching from opposite sidelines on Saturday when the Red and Blue face Chestnut Hill in the annual battle for Philadelphia.

Console and Juliano have been best friends since they came to Penn as part of the same recruiting class four years ago. They shared similar trajectories throughout their careers, playing on the defensive side of the ball and joining the same fraternity. This trajectory also led them into coaching, but that is where their paths diverged.

Former Penn defensive coordinator John Amendt, who now works in the same role at Chestnut Hill, tried to recruit both Console and Juliano to be assistant coaches on his defensive staff. Juliano viewed it as a great opportunity to make a mark on a young program, while Console wanted to stay closer to Penn’s campus and work with coaches and players he knows well.

Despite their desire to go into coaching together, they now find themselves in completely different situations.

“We had always talked about going into coaching together,” Juliano said. “We both had the chance to join at Chestnut Hill, but Tom decided he wanted to help Penn out instead, so we had to go separate ways.”

Even though Console and Juliano now work in different programs, their relationship has not changed. 

“We still talk almost every day about coaching, about football in general, about how our respective teams are doing, but with a friendly edge of competition to it now,” Juliano said.

That feeling of competition may not be so friendly this week, as the Quakers are gearing up for their first divisional game, while the Griffins are trying to bounce back from a loss to Navy last week. Additionally, the Red and Blue will be seeking revenge for the 31-26 loss they suffered at the hands of Chestnut Hill at Franklin Field a year ago.

Credit: Chase Sutton

Console and Juliano played in that game together last season, but this time around it will be a new experience for both rookie coaches, as they had grown accustomed to practicing and preparing for games together over the past four years.

“James and I used to watch film up until the early hours of the morning. Sometimes he’d just fall asleep on my couch or I’d fall asleep on his couch,” Console said.

While Console goes to work at Franklin Field every day for practices, Juliano will be making his return to the stadium where he played so many high-pressure games over the course of his career.

It’s reasonable to assume that Juliano will be experiencing some nerves on Saturday, but as a newcomer to the Chestnut Hill program, a game at Franklin Field could actually be a welcome event.

“I’ll probably feel more comfortable at Franklin Field than I do at Chestnut Hill’s field,” Juliano said.

Juliano, however, also understands the importance of this game, and he expects a high level of intensity from his former team.

“I know the Penn guys are 100% going all out to get a championship this year, but here at Chestnut Hill, we’re that young, hungry program that’s trying to make our mark,” Juliano said.

Console, on the other hand, is taking a more confident approach to the upcoming matchup against his best friend’s new team. 

“To every building there’s a walkway, you just have to put your foot on each stone, and I think Chestnut Hill is just a stone on that walkway,” Console said.

The Quakers are hoping that walkway eventually leads to a Collegiate Sprint Football League title, and a win over the Griffins to open up divisional play would be a step in the right direction. A pair of young coaches in this rivalry will both play important roles, but it will do little to damage a relationship that has grown strong through four years of friendship, brotherhood, and football.