Brothers at home, opponents on Friday
Will Valentas is unsure how he will react when he sees his brother on the football field on Friday night.
Valentas, a senior, will start at left guard for Andover when it plays Kapaun Mount Carmel at home. His younger brother by two years, Scott, will also start the game — for Kapaun at safety.
So what will happen when Will breaks through to the next level of the defense and sees Scott crashing toward him?
Who will he see — No. 10 in white or his brother?
“I’m still trying to realize that this is going to be real,” Will said. “I’m actually going to be going up against my brother. It’s kind of cool and it’s kind of weird at the same time. It’s going to be interesting on Friday night.”
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The brothers split up last year when Scott decided to attend Kapaun, where he made friends playing on the summer basketball circuit. He had studied in the Andover school district through the eighth grade.
Will and Scott are both three-sport athletes — both play football and basketball, then Will competes in track and field while Scott plays baseballin the spring — and that has made for a busy schedule for Amy and Bill, their parents.
“All year long, we are back and forth,” Amy said. “It’s crazy, but that’s our life.”
Amy and Bill have devised a plan for this fall. They will each split off to go to one of their sons’ games, and try to rotate during the season.
But Friday presents an entirely new set of challenges. What will they wear? Do they sit with the Andover parents or the Kapaun parents? Who do they root for?
“Those are the questions I’ve been getting a lot of this week,” Amy said. “I have my in-laws coming and my mom will be there, so it’s going to be a big family gathering. It’s still up in the air, I’m not sure what we’re going to do but it’s probably going to be half-and-half.”
“I thought we were going to wear Kapaun shirts and sit on the Andover side,” Bill said jokingly. “Get all of the parents fired up.”
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At 6-foot-4 and 295 pounds, Will is a mirror image of his father.
Bill was a four-year starter on the offensive line from 1993-96 at Saint Xavier University in Chicago. He was a first team NAIA All-American his senior season and was inducted into the Saint Xavier Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004.
“We can talk the same language,” Bill said. “He’s always had dreams of wanting to do more, so I teach him what I know. I want him to be able to protect himself and have success, so the things I had success with is what I try to pass down to him.”
The competitive flame from his playing days hasn’t been extinguished. He still loves breaking down film and critiquing Will — sometimes loudly.
“He’s always there to yell at me if I did something wrong,” Will jokes. “If I wasn’t going hard enough on one play, he’s screaming from the stands or screaming from the sidelines. He’s always screaming somewhere, you just don’t know where he’s at but you can always hear him.”
Bill is not as critical of Scott because he did not play the same position, but supported him the same.
“I watch games from an offensive lineman’s perspective, so it’s easier for me to watch Will’s games and it’s harder for me to watch Scott’s games,” Bill said. “But it’s still fun for me either way. I still have to be that supportive dad and not be that guy screaming in the stands like when I coached (Scott) in middle school.”
Bill credits his father for making him a better player and a college football prospect.
And with Hudl’s technology, which coaches use to upload game film, Bill now can watch every one of Will’s plays.
“Even if he’s not there at my game, he can watch it the next day and still tell me what I did wrong,” Will said with a grin.
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Andover and Kapaun both won their first game, so Friday’s game looms large with both looking for a 2-0 start.
“I wish both could win,” Amy said. “But obviously they can’t, so at the end of the day I’m going to be proud of both of them.”
The family has differing opinions on what will happen when the brothers meet in the handshake line after the game. Amy doubts they will hug, while Bill thinks they should.
The brothers say it depends on who wins.
“If we win, I’m probably going to be pretty excited and probably give him a hug,” Scott said. “If we lose, then probably just shake his hand and tell him, ‘I’ll see you at home.’ ”
While the winner may hold it over the other for awhile, in the end, the two say they will still come together as brothers.
“It would be better (on Friday) if I just saw him as a number and played my game and then after I can see him as my brother again,” Scott said. “At the end of the day, we’re brothers and we’re still going to love each other.”