Having a brother as a football teammate can be beneficial.
For one thing, there can be an image of double trouble approaching.
The Capra brothers at Placer High School – Johnny and Jacob – strike an imposing pair as they parade into Li’s Chinese restaurant in Auburn with appetites to match their lineman physiques.
“We grub down pretty hard,” said Johnny, a 6-foot-6, 295-pound senior tackle who admits to letting his 6-5, 270-pound brother, also a tackle, enter the place first out of sheer courtesy. “Having a brother on the same team, it’s definitely a bond that most can’t understand. It’s unique.”
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Good eating also plays out in El Dorado Hills, where Oak Ridge has three sets of brothers, including senior twins Stephen and Scott Douglas and junior twins Sam and Luke Woehler. And there is captain Nolan Book, a senior left tackle, and his brother Ian, a junior quarterback. Nolan takes this brother bond so personally that he initiated a plan to host the offensive linemen for a Monday night meal for every game in which no sacks were allowed. That’s four times and counting now, resulting in a lot of football conversation and dishes.
“I love playing football with Nolan,” Ian said. “He blocks my blind side and I have yet to get hit in the back in the two years we’ve been together on varsity. We’re really cherishing the moments we have.”
That same theme is taking place in Grass Valley, where senior running back John Voter and his brother Jason, a junior quarterback, have propelled Bear River. Those brothers grew up playing youth ball while dreaming of the day they would be varsity teammates. They take on Placer and the Capras on Friday for first place in the Pioneer Valley League.
League championship chatter is common in Elk Grove, where senior twins Reid and Bryce Abshear have had strong seasons for Franklin High. Reid is a defensive end and sweep back, and Bryce is a free safety who doubles as a wide receiver. The brothers share a 2005 Chrysler 300, rotating who gets to drive to school and back home after practice. And to keep things fair, each has a set of keys. For extra kicks, the brothers once switched classes, one in Spanish, the other as a teacher’s aide. Their grins and snickers blew their cover.
“We’ve had so much fun with all this,” said Reid, standing next to his identical brother. “We want each other to really be successful because it helps all of us.”
In Loomis, a sibling synergy has helped unite Del Oro after a slow start to the season. Logan Hurst is the Golden Eagles’ senior quarterback who doesn’t hesitate to look to his sophomore receiver brother Mason on pass plays. They know each other’s tendencies, much like they used to trigger each other’s hot spots.
The brothers admit to having their feuds, bickering or brawling, but they have grown to appreciate each other. And they need each other. Logan needs Mason to catch those darts he delivers. Logan celebrated Mason’s two interceptions from his defensive-back post that helped Del Oro beat Oak Ridge 35-14 last Friday to keep the Golden Eagles’ playoff hopes alive, a game in which Logan threw four touchdown passes and ran for a score.
“It’s awesome playing with Logan,” Mason said. “It really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We used to fight a bit, but we’ve grown a lot closer due to football. We work on things on the field and at home.”
Said Logan: “As we’ve grown up, the love and respect we have has definitely grown. We’re pretty good friends now.”
None of these brothers play the same position, easing any brotherly tension. The Capra brothers anchor the Placer lines. Johnny has given a verbal commitment to Cal, and he’s mentoring Jacob on the recruiting process.
“We’re the best of friends, and we spend entire days together and enjoy it,” Johnny Capra said. “We help each other out. We have some classes together. Playing alongside my brother has been a huge asset.”
Placer coach Joey Montoya agreed, joking that he needs to send more thank-you notes to the Capra parents for providing such big, talented kids. And one more is coming in eighth-grader Joey Capra.
Oak Ridge coach Eric Cavaliere said he was amused at the reaction of an Oak Ridge fan last season who noticed swelling media coverage of Ian Book, the quarterback, but not so much so for Nolan, the tackle.
“The parent said to me, ‘Poor Nolan. I feel so bad for him, all this attention going to his younger brother,’” Cavaliere recalled. “My reply was, ‘Poor Nolan! Let’s see, 4.2 student, good-looking kid who has the attention of the female students at Oak Ridge, a starter on a good team. Hmmm. I would’ve taken ‘Poor Nolan’s’ place in high school any time!’”
Nolan said he has never been jealous of Ian’s success and stature. In fact, he’s inspired by it.
“I’m so impressed with Ian,” Nolan said. “How he’s handled things, how he plays and leads this team. I’m so proud of him. Sometimes I don’t know how he does the things he does on the field, getting away from people and making plays. I couldn’t do that.”
It took Franklin coach Mike Johnson six years to tell the Abshear twins apart, having coached them in youth ball, too. But if both are in helmets, he’s back to guessing and relying on jersey numbers.
“They’re so similar,” the coach said. “Great to have them.”
Like the other brothers, the Abshears feed off each other, push each other. And they compete. Reid is quick to remind that he’s two minutes older. Like all the football brothers, the Abshears don’t know how long they’ll play together. It’s likely that none of the brothers will be teammates after high school, though all expect to keep playing football.
“If we do keep playing together, that’d be great,” Bryce Abshear said.
Reid added: “But if we do split, we’ll be OK with that. We’ll enjoy the time we have now.”
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.