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September 18, 2013
While the rivalry jokes run rampant, the playful bets are made, and the jawing gets a little out of control this week amongst the fans, Utah and BYU are taking a business like approach towards the game this week.
You see, not all players are like Max Hall, in fact, he is in the minority. Sure there might be some verbal jabs by the players, but it is all in fun, especially when you are dealing with houses that are divided. During this year's Holy War, two immediate families are represented and each family has one player (the older bother) that plays a prominent role. While each player loves their brother, this week is different for the Friels and Reillys.
Utah's Trevor Reilly, might have been supportive of his brother Drew's decision to attend BYU, but the Utes' resident tough guy is not about to go soft. "I'll probably call him and talk some smack to him on the phone a little bit. It's my daughter's birthday on Thursday, so I'll see him for sure on Thursday at the birthday party. He knows that I own him, if he wants to play me in anything, I'll beat him [Trevor laughs], so hopefully (we) can pull one out this week," said Reilly.
Although Reilly is confident, he talks in a joking-but-serious manner. Mostly because of Utah' three game winning streak, Drew does not talk too much smack, Trevor, however, picks his spots. "As far as I go, I don't rub it in his face. If we start talking a little bit, there'll be some smack going back and forth," he said.
Kala Friel's brother is BYU starting tight end, Kaneakua Friel. Kala says their close, but when it comes time for football, there is not much communication. "I support him in all that he does and he's doing really well and he supports me and tries to help me get better, because he's my older brother, but this week, not too much (talking), you know, don't want to help the opponent or anything," explained Kala.
As for how the Friel family feels about Saturday's game? "They're supportive of both of us, my dad just says he'll be a winner no matter what," he said.
Utah Defensive Coordinator Kalani Sitake can relate to the Reillys and Friels when it comes to rivalry week and how it temporarily divides a family. While Sitake played football at BYU, his older brother, Tevita Pella, played football for the Utes, and a sister who played briefly for the volleyball team.
"I played against my brother, I was at BYU and my older brother was here at Utah, and so we played against each other for a couple years. For us it's a game, just like they'll tell you, your family is more important, but also you want to win. I know Trevor and Kala, they're both competitors, they want to win this game, and that's what makes it so beautiful, is this rivalry, it's heated for the fans, but it's competitive for the players. It's two good programs and football is really good in this state, so think it's fun, I think it's fun for those guys," Sitake said.
"I've been in their shoes before, being on this side (now), there are just a lot of really good things about both programs. I'm just glad both programs are experiencing a lot of success and hopefully we keep that building. It's a little different than what the fans do, we have a lot of guys on our team that have (old) teammates on that side, they're all competitive, but there's not like hatred for them."
For each of the players, their reason for attending one school or another is different. For Friel, he was recruited by BYU, but their interested cool his senior year, so he walked on and eventually earned a scholarship at Utah. Trevor believes there were a few reasons that Drew chose BYU.
"It came down to a couple things, I kind of got the feeling that maybe he didn't want to be (looked at as) my little brother. You know, I had started here one or two years and played a lot, so to come in and be someone's younger brother, that's not always the best thing, so that may have been one thing," believes Trevor. "The other thing, I knew that he was looking for a girl and I guess BYU's a better place if you're a Mormon kid, so I just didn't really push the issue after he set his mind on that place."
Trevor is a family man and you can see the genuine love that he has for Drew, but that is not going to stop big brother from putting little brother in his place if/when he comes across him before or during the game.
"If I see him, I'm going to say something, you can count on that," stated Trevor. "Maybe pregame or during the game, somehow I run by him, I might push him or say something to him, just to get to him a little."
No matter what, when the clock hits zero, Trevor knows the first thing he will do. "I'll go give him a hug, he's my brother, blood is thicker than jersey color, so I love him, he's my family."
After growing up and seeing his house divided between Utah and BYU, Sitake has a great respect for the Holy War. "Every time I'm a part of this game, it's awesome, it's awesome to be a part of as a fan when I was young, as a player when I was a little older, and now that I'm really old as a coach, it's awesome to see, I think there are good fans on both sides, and it makes it fun," he explained.
Still, as fun as it is for Sitake, when he went against his brother it brought a whole new element. The thing that he remembers the most is, "Probably not talking to each other, that week was kind of weird, and then seeing each other on the field. That's just part of the deal, we understood on both sides that you're playing for opposing teams, you just really want to win, and at the end of the game, hugging each other and just being happy to have that experience, it's special," claims Sitake.
For the Reillys and Friels on Saturday, one big brother will win and the other big brother will lose, but regardless of the rivalry, you will find the siblings embracing at the end of a hard fought game.