Family ties: One of 10 children, sibling rivalry has fueled Davion Eldridge into being a leader on Titans’ football team

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 14, 2023

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By Jay Spivey

For the Clemmons Courier

When you’re one of 10 children in a family, it’s hard to make a name for yourself.

But for senior Davion Eldridge, a 6-foot, 200-pound middle linebacker/defensive end on the West Forsyth football team, his name sparkles under the bright lights of Central Piedmont 4-A and NCHSAA Class 4-A football.

Davion, 17, is one of eight children with parents David and Candise Eldridge. The other seven are David, 19, who played football and wrestled at West Forsyth and is now playing football at Winston-Salem State; Daviare, 16, a junior strong safety at West Forsyth; Daviel, 15, a sophomore defensive lineman at West Forsyth; sister Daviah, 12; brother Daviance, 10; brother Davis, 9; and sister Davannah, 8.

In addition, Davion has two elder sisters — Destiny Griffin, 23, who helped the West Forsyth girls basketball team win the NCHSAA Class 4-A state championship in 2019 and won the 2019 NCHSAA Class 4-A indoor track-and-field shot put championship, and sister DeMyah Griffin, 20, who is a nurse — share the same mother with the other eight children, according to Davion.

“We’re always competing,” Davion said. “That’s one thing about us. We’re always competing, even from practice to our front yard. We always compete — who’s better than who? Who’s got better hands? Who can catch? Who is better in this? Always.”

A sibling rivalry with a family this big is something new Coach Kevin Wallace of the West Forsyth team can’t comprehend.

“I couldn’t imagine that. I’m an only child, so I don’t even know what that’s like,” Wallace said.

Coming from Northwest Guilford, Wallace started hearing little bits and pieces about the family.

“We went out a couple times to Winston-Salem State’s practices and saw David while we were out there,” Wallace said. “It was a little interaction with him that way. (David) comes back and lifts, especially in the offseason when he gets away. So, just the small interaction of having that is really all I knew.”

Davion has become a leader for the Titans this season. Still, he probably started picking up leadership qualities when he was younger and followed Destiny Griffin around at basketball games and practices when she played there. While there, she was one of the leaders of a very talented team.

“When I started going to my big sister’s basketball games, seeing the energy there,” Davion said. “I liked the atmosphere and everything, so I was always a Titan ever since those basketball games.”

Seeing all of Destiny’s accomplishments opened Davion’s eyes.

“It showed,” he said. “It showed I had a legacy to live up to. I always asked her like, what is it like at West? Is it fun and everything? She gave me a little info to say it’s a good little spot to be at. But she really inspired me to be a Titan.”

Not only did Destiny show leadership on the court and the track, but she also became a mother hen.
“That’s like my second mom,” Davion said. “My mom is busy. She’d be the second mom I’d run back to. She was like a mom and a caregiver.”

Davion was even comfortable enough in his own skin that he felt like he could pick her brain for advice.
“When I had something to talk about, or I needed someone to talk to, she’d be there to talk to me,” he said. “Or if I needed some advice, she would help me. She was like my second mom.”

Not only did Davion have a chance to have a strong older sister or sisters, he had a chance to follow in the footsteps of his elder brother, David, who was almost like a second father in many ways.

“He showed me around,” Davion said of his elder brother. “He’s the one who got me right for high school. When I was in middle school, David was in high school, so when he used to lift high-school weights, I used to lift with him. He was teaching me how high school worked.”

Now, the roles have flipped, and Davion is more of the big brother, with brothers Daviare and Daviel playing on the same defense with him on the Titans.

“It was kind of like where I had to take the role I never took before, and then, at first, I didn’t know what to do,” Davion said. “But then I started seeing what they need help with, what they can improve in, give them advice, just showing them because next thing, I’m leaving and (Daviare’s) going to have to step up into my place. So, I’m just teaching him what David taught me.”

Even though Wallace is in his first season as head coach at West Forsyth after longtime Coach Adrian Snow, he’s seen what Davion is doing on the field.

“He’s social,” Wallace said. “Kids get along with him. I think he has a very comfortable sense there of having his brothers go through it before him and everything. So, I think that’s helped him. He gets along with people. He’s a great kid.”

After going 4-7 overall last year, Davion, who is a captain, and the rest of the Titans have all set out to avenge last year’s disappointment.

“It’s really not different to me because, one thing about me, it doesn’t matter if I’m a captain or not, I’m a team player,” he said. “I bring the team up, make sure they’re doing their roles, holding people accountable. So, it really didn’t change anything for me being a captain. It just shows I’m still here to show that we’re coming to play.”

So far, West Forsyth is 2-1 overall, and it starts Central Piedmont 4-A play Friday night at Jerry Peoples Stadium against Mount Tabor. Part of being a captain is teaching others how to follow suit. One of those players is Daviare and Daviel, as well as his younger brothers.

“All of us are trying to make it somewhat big, all together,” Davion said.

It all comes from the bond the family has.

“We’ve got a good family,” Davion said. “We love each other to death. We never turn our backs on none of us.”

One thing Davion is trying to improve is his grades. He’s a good student, with a 3.0 GPA, but that could be higher.

“I’ve got to bring it up,” he said. “I’m trying to get a 4.0, at least 3.5.”

His coaches at West Forsyth all see the same thing with Davion off the field, but that translates into what he wants to do with football after he graduates next June.

“I think he’s in the DII realm,” Wallace said. “We’ve got to just make sure his grades are straight, and he’ll be fine. I’ve just got to stay on top of him about that stuff, and I think he fits into that DII realm to be able to play and contribute.”

Davion has improved his grades since some early struggles when he first arrived at West Forsyth.

“He’s a fine student now,” Wallace said. “There’s no issues. There’s no concerns with ever failing classes, or academic support, or anything like that. I just think his overall cumulative GPA might have been affected early on.”

With seven games remaining in the regular season and eight months until graduation, Davion Eldridge still has plenty of time to prove himself, something he’s done his whole life. He wants to go to college and become a civil engineer.

“I don’t got no colleges’ offers, but I got college interest, and they’re looking at me,” he said. “(I want to go to) somewhere I can play and go against the best of the best. At least competition, that’s all I need.”