For a few Murphy players, it’s all about brotherhood

  • Tue Nov 30th, 2010 6:48pm
  • Sports

By Mike Cane Herald Writer

EVERETT — Over the course of a lengthy high school football season, teammates often develop a brotherhood that remains strong for life.

The bond is particularly special for the unbeaten Archbishop Murphy High School football team. In addition to the close relationships shared by the coaches and athletes, the squad features three pairs of real-life brothers:

– Senior Randy Gordon (tight end/safety) and sophomore Ricky Gordon (running back/safety).

– Senior Julius Tevaga (offensive line/defensive line) and sophomore Eneliko “Liko” Tevaga (running back/linebacker).

– Senior Austin VanderWel (quarterback/safety) and sophomore Hans VanderWel (running back/safety).

All six fill important roles on both sides of the ball for the 13-0 Wildcats, who play Tumwater (11-1) for the Class 2A state championship Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.

“They’re all really great kids — good leaders from good families,” Murphy coach Dave Ward said of the Gordons, Tevagas and VanderWels.

“It’s brought a lot of unity to the team,” said Murphy senior lineman Tani Tupou, a University of Washington recruit. “They pick each other up, and they pick us up.”

Tupou and the three sets of brothers grew up in Marysville, playing sports both with and against each other.

“We’ve all been together since middle school,” Tupou said. “We’ve all known each other, so in a way we’re all tied together as brothers.”

They’re also on the brink of achieving their ultimate goal: A state title. Here’s a closer look at Murphy’s three sets of brothers.

Randy and Ricky Gordon

What’s the best thing about playing together?

Randy: “Just being able to have Ricky’s support and being able to support him while we’re out on the field. I pick him up if he makes a mistake and try to get his head right so that he doesn’t do it again.”

Ricky: “Randy got hurt (in Week 1) and I had to take over his position on defense. That was real tough because I had to step up and do my best. Like he said, whenever I messed up he was always there bringing me back up.”

Do you have common interests besides football?

Randy: “Going to Canada. We both love going to the Yukon. My grandma lives up there. We haven’t been there the last two years, but hopefully this winter. We ride quads and go hiking.”

Ricky: “Also, we both used to do wrestling and basketball in middle school.”

Randy: “But now in high school we do track. We do it to get ready for football.”

Do you ever argue?

Randy: “Heck yeah! We have our differences — our little arguments over who gets the remote; the classic stuff. But at the end of the day, we’re brothers.”

Julius and Liko Tevaga

What’s the best thing about playing together?

Julius: “Coming up through high school — me as a junior last year and him as a freshman — we were on the same field. He was always watching me and I always watched him. It was a good experience, and now this year has blossomed for him. He’s having a great year. It’s really fun.”

Liko: “It’s great because the holes (at the line of scrimmage) are huge, especially with Tani there too. They just open up the holes for us (running backs).”

How do you support each other on the field?

Liko: “I get yelled at!”

Julius: “It’s for his own good. I just talk to him and ask him if he’s OK and tell him where to run, where I’m going to block and which hole to go under.”

Do you ever argue?

Julius: “Sometimes he gets on my nerves. It’s stupid stuff or little stuff, but Liko’s the only one who can get on my nerves that bad. He knows it, too. He knows my weaknesses and everything.”

Liko: “No one knows, but he’s a soft guy.”

Julius: “He makes fun of the movies I watch.”

Liko: “His favorite movie is ‘The Notebook.’ (Liko laughs.) He’s a very sensitive guy. But he’s a different guy when he’s on the field.”

Austin and Hans VanderWel

What’s the best thing about playing together?

Austin: “It’s an incredible feeling to have my little brother playing with me. The team is so family-oriented already, but having (Hans) on both sides of the ball starting with me — it’s just so much easier. If you do get down on yourself, then you’ve got your baby brother to help pick you up, and vice versa.”

Hans: “Every week I just think, ‘I’m doing it for him because it’s his senior year, so I really need to get it done.’ Austin motivates me every play I’m out there.”

Do you have common interests besides football?

Hans: “We both ride unicycles.”

Austin: “Our dad got them for us for Christmas (when the brothers were younger) and we learned how to ride them. … We definitely don’t spend as much time riding unicycles as we do at football.”

Do you ever argue?

Hans: “I think we do really good.”

Austin: “We don’t fight very much at all. We probably did when we were little, when we bugged each other. But now that we’re both in high school and the maturity level has come up a lot, we basically get along just fine.”

Mike Cane: Check out the prep sports blog Double Team at and follow Cane on Twitter at MikeCaneHerald.