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Seeing double — Tamaivena twins show off their talent for Tomahawks
MARYSVILLE — Football distinguishes twins Siti and Suli Tamaivena.
On paper, the two are similar. Both are 5-11, 190-pound junior linebackers heading up the a dominant Marysville-Pilchuck defense, but that’s to be expected with identical twins.
Even in person, the two are light-hearted, respectful kids who laugh and joke around with their teammates.
All anybody wanting to know which of the identical twins is Siti and which is Suli needs to do is watch the Tomahawks play — or ask them.
“He’s a better run stopper and I’m better looking for the pass,” said Siti, referring to his brother.
The Tamaivena twins are quick to give the other credit, when it is due, but there is also a competition to push one another.
“I remember just last week we called a time out in the first half and one of them was yelling at the other, saying that it was his job to cover somebody,” said coach Brandon Carson, referring to Marysville-Pilchuck’s 49-24 win over Graham-Kapowsin Nov. 2. “And the other was saying it right back at him, like brothers do. It made me laugh a bit.”
Even if logic dictates if a coverage was blown, one of them had to do it, that is a rarity for these two. In just their first season starting in the middle, the Tamaivenas are No. 1 and No. 2 in tackles and each has also scored a defensive touchdown.
“They’ve played really well for us and they get better every week,” Carson said.
Not exactly soft-spoken — but having the ability to listen — the Tamaivenas are easily spotted in practice, either trying to get the other’s attention, or messing around with their teammates.
“It’s kind of fun to have them around, they are a little goofy,” Carson said.
But the numbers the Tomahawks defense has put up this year suggests that everyone in an M-P uniform is all business. Through 10 games so far — all wins — Marysville as allowed an average of just 16 points and a little more than 200 yards per game.
The Tamaivena’s are a big part of that, and to M-P’s first playoff victory since 1989, but there were challenges along the way.
“It’s very physical back there,” Siti said. “And you have to be able to rush in or cover. There is a lot to watch out for.”
Just last year the twins were slated to be defensive backs, as they were flighty and showed an awareness for where the ball was going to be.
“They played a little bit all over the place,” Carson said. “But our biggest need was at middle linebacker coming into the year and it was a natural choice with them being so instinctive.”
The brothers were born in the Figi Islands and came to the states with their family on their father’s rugby trip when they were very young. The Tamaivenas liked it so much that they decided to stay and lived in California for a few years before eventually moving to Marysville. Both have played football since the fourth grade and believe that the family connection helps them on the field.
“Definintely,” Suli said about the advantage of having a twin at linebacker. “We can talk to each other easier and we know where we like to play and where we are on the field all the time.”
And as if learning new positions isn’t enough to ask, Siti has been featured at times in the Tomahawks’ power running game, scoring a game-winning touchdown against Kamiak earlier this season, and even seeing some carries against Graham-Kapowsin.
His offensive success is funny to the brothers because the two see Suli as the better runner. With twins, people lose track of who is who, and it’s even harder with a helmet on.