Like many cousins, Tyler and Ryan Lilomaiava often clash. In fact, they clash on an almost daily basis.
And they love it.
Both are seniors on the Hurst L.D. Bell Blue Raiders varsity football team. Ryan is a right guard on the offensive line. Tyler is opposite him on the defensive line.
“Going against Tyler, I have to work a little harder. We also have to see each other at home that night,” Ryan said.
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Oh yeah, they also live together, so daily bragging rights are in order at the dinner table.
They are also as close as brothers. From football to movies, they are constantly at each other’s side.
After spending their younger years in San Francisco with the their families, Ryan his family moved to Euless in 2008 and then to Hurst in 2012. He and his family would often visit the Bay area and he and Tyler have always remained close.
I really wanted to play and suit up with Ryan on Friday nights. So this season is very special.
Tyler Lilomaiva on playing high school ball with his cousin
Then, Tyler visited him in the summer of 2016 and came to a realization that he wanted to be reunited with his cousin. They had not played football together since their peewee days, and they had never played on the same team.
However, their union on the Blue Raiders varsity wasn’t instant. In fact, it was still a year in the waiting, as Tyler had to play on the junior varsity for a year per University Interscholastic League rules.
“I was on the varsity back home, so that took some adjusting,” Tyler said. “But I really wanted to play and suit up with Ryan on Friday nights. So this season is very special.”
Ryan, meanwhile, was playing his first varsity season for the Raiders while waiting on his cousin to become eligible. Then came another pleasant surprise in the spring.
“We’d talked about what it would be like if we went up against each other in practice,” Ryan said. “Then, in the spring they moved me to right guard and I realized ‘Oh yeah, this is happening.’”
At 6 feet and 240 pounds, Ryan understands there are many players bigger than him at the guard position. However, he prides himself on being physical, and he said blocking Tyler, who is 6-0 and 260, inspires him even more to steadily improve.
“Tyler is very talented,” Ryan said. “Part of him coming here was so he’d have a better chance at an athletic scholarship.”
Tyler said the two basically “break even” in practice. Sometimes Tyler gets past Ryan to make a tackle and sometimes he’s blocked out of the play.
“Either way, I definitely have fun going up against him,” Tyler said. “It does motivate us to see who is better on that day.”
Ryan’s family moved to the area in 2008 for economic reasons. Tyler said that while the hot Texas weather required an adjustment, he loves living here.
“Noticing how quiet it is and how different it is from the Bay area, I really like it,” he said. “Here it’s more peaceful.”
Bell head coach Mike Glaze said the overall experience is something special for the duo, something he wishes he could have had when he was younger.
“I would have loved to play high school sports with one of my cousins,” Glaze said. “It is also a great experience for their families. They get to travel to the games together, go through homecoming and senior night together. Hopefully, Ryan and Tyler, along with their families, will have many great memories from this year.”
Unless they are able to pull off a rarity and get scholarships to play for the same college football team, the likelihood is Ryan and Tyler will not be playing together after this season.
“That would be amazing if we did play together in college. I don’t have the words to express how great that would be,” Ryan said. “But really, the goal is just to get into college for football for both of us.”
Tyler agrees, but said his focus at the moment is on having the best season possible alongside his cousin.
“I’d love to get a college offer, but my main goal right now is to be a great teammate and enjoy this special season,” he said. “But whatever happens after this year, we’ll always stay close. He’s my best friend.”