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Three of a kind

West Ranch brothers push the Wildcats — and each other — to improve the football program

Posted: September 16, 2009 9:44 p.m.
Updated: September 17, 2009 4:55 a.m.

West Ranch seniors Andrew Nowakowski, left, and twin brother Adam, right, hope to set a winning example for the program that underclassmen like their younger brother Nick, back, can build on. The Wildcats will travel to face Eastside today.

 
Football players go through two-a-days together. They face adversity together. They line up next to one another on the field.

The process is intense, and it often makes brothers out of teammates.

The Nowakowskis don’t need the help.

Identical twins Adam and Andrew Nowakowski play on the West Ranch football team, along with younger brother Nick.

It’s an interesting situation to say the least.

“It gets a little competitive,” Adam says. “I would definitely say it’s a little awkward living with them.”

But that competitiveness pays off, both for the brothers and the team.

“We’re each trying to do better than the other, so that pushes us to do better,” Adam says.

Adam and Andrew are seniors who start at defensive back and defensive lineman, respectively, while Nick is a sophomore starting on the offensive line.

Andrew is a defensive end and Nick is a guard, so Nick says it’s rare for them to go against one another in practice.

What’s even rarer is three brothers on the same team.

“I’ve never had this,” says West Ranch head coach Sean O’Brien, who played football in high school and college and has more than a decade’s worth of coaching experience. “We do make the joke that if someone ever made a mistake on a play, if you say ‘Nowakowski’ you have a 5 percent chance of being right.”

The Nowakowskis moved to the Santa Clarita Valley at the end of Adam and Andrew’s sixth-grade year, and when the twins joined the freshman team at West Ranch, they say the coaches couldn’t tell them apart.

When they joined the varsity squad, history repeated itself.

“It hasn’t been a big deal this year, but last year our coaches would get us mixed up,” Andrew says.

According to O’Brien, the twins share more than just looks.

“They’re both intense young men,” he says. “They both work out really, really well. Andrew is probably the stronger of the two. Adam might have the edge in speed. Both are smart football players.”

As for Nick, O’Brien says he’s very proficient and tough, especially for a sophomore starting on varsity.

Nick says having two older brothers on the team doesn’t hurt.

“If I have a bad day, they tell me that because there’s another practice, I’ve just got to get better in the next practice,” he says.

Andrew feels that Nick has handled the pressure of varsity football well, and he’s noticed an improvement in Nick’s pass-blocking from last year to this year.

The improvement, however, hasn’t stopped a little good-natured ribbing by Adam and Andrew.

“Sometimes we make fun of him because we’re older and a little stronger than him,” Andrew admits. “But we don’t do it too much.”

All three brothers take pride in helping the West Ranch football program usher in a new era.

Once this senior class graduates, Andrew says it will be up to the remaining players to continue whatever the Wildcats start this season.

“That means a lot,” he says. “Every team after us is going to be based off this year because of the new coaches this year. If we can set a high standard, they can improve off that.”

Adam helped set a standard on special teams last week by partially blocking a punt against Lancaster.

The play gave West Ranch good field position and led to the team’s first touchdown.

“They set the example, so then we have to follow their example,” Nick says.

Adam and Andrew don’t always agree on their example.

O’Brien recalls a recent film study session where the two argued over whether or not it was good to talk to opponents during games.

What matters most, he says, is their passion.

“They see the world differently,” O’Brien says, “but their commitment to football, that’s where they’re identical.”

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