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When Mitchell Wildman lines up at tight end, he's always diligent about his blocking responsibilities.

This season, with his brother Tyler in the Lowell backfield, it's personal.

"I'll look in their eye and I know they're not going to hit my little brother," Mitchell said. "It gives me incentive to block for him."

Mitchell is a 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior who rarely leaves the field, also starting at linebacker on the fierce Red Devils defense. Tyler, a 5-10, 163-pound junior, saw spot time on defense last year before earning primary ball carrying duties this season as Lowell has spelled Jordan Jusevitch more on offense.

"They're two great, hard-working kids who went out and accepted their role, played it real hard and have done big things for us," coach Keith Kilmer said. "They're about as different as can be. Mitchell's a choir boy, straight laced, does everything he's asked to do the first time without telling him. Tyler's a little bit of a spark plug. He's got a little edge to him. A lot of it has to do with one being (tall) and the other being (short). Tyler's had to learn how to fend for himself as a small guy at a big position."

The Wildmans grew up playing Pop Warner in Crown Point before they started wearing Lowell's red and black in middle school. Playing football for RDP is special in the south Lake County community and doing so with a brother has made it even more fun for the Wildmans, who also run track together.

"I've never really worried about setting a good example. I knew he was a good kid and he played ball the way I played ball," Mitchell said. "We pretty much have the same interests and he's easy to get along with. We break down film, talk about how practice was. It's awesome to do that with somebody you're so close with. Our mom's a big football mom and she takes great joy in us playing."

Tyler's quick to show his appreciation to his brother for his direction.

"It's awesome having him on the team, both of us being on the offensive side," Tyler said. "It's something special on Friday. I can go home with him and talk about the game. In the summer, we go over the playbook. He's an awesome leader. He shows me the right things to do. I credit him for being the man I am today. He was just blessed with better genes, I guess."

While Jusevitch wears Lowell's honored No. 6, being a running back there is a big deal in and of itself.

"It's a great honor," Tyler said. "I look up to all the running backs who came before me. I watched the great players, Ike James, Trevor Espravnik, who set the standard for me. I'm trying to follow them and make my own legacy. I feel like I have to try a little harder than some people, to get stronger, to put on weight. There's not too much I can do about my height, but I do what I can with my frame. I've worked hard every rep to earn coach Kilmer's trust in me and I'm loving every minute of it."

Mitchell's enjoyed seeing Tyler assume such a large role.

"We knew coming in we were going to use Jordan mainly on defense," Mitchell said. "He put up a fight for the position and once he got it, he was going to make full potential of it. I've seen him do things I've never seen anybody his weight do. He took down (Griffith's Kadafi) Coleman in the open field. He may not have the size he wants, but he fights for every yard. He's one of the most physical runners I've ever seen."

Tyler's 799 yards rushing leads Lowell.

"He's not the grind-it-out, I-formation back, but he fits perfectly in our new-fangled spread offense," Kilmer said. "He can create a few more problems."

On the defensive side, Mitchell's nine tackles for loss ranks second on the Red Devils.

"He's a true two-way starter," Kilmer said. "The big thing with Mitchell is his motor doesn't stop. He doesn't seem to get tired. We can split him out and put him inside. He can run sideline to sideline. He's such a weapon for us. He always seems to come up big when it matters most."

Like countless Lowell kids, the Wildmans grew up going to The Inferno, watching the Red Devil greats of the day and dreaming about being one some day. Others now view them the same way.

"You walk in the gate and see all the numbers (for titles won) on the big board, '05, '07, 09, and think about what might be in the future," Mitchell said. "I admired guys like (Brandon) Grubbe, (Cole) Midgett, Ike (James). Our goal is try to add a number for every conference, sectional, regional and semistate on the board and then the ultimate goal (state). It's crazy to think of that, but we've got a good opportunity. No matter what, we're going to do everything we can."

As a senior, Mitchell also knows any game at this point could be his last.

"I don't take anything for granted," he said. "I think about it every day, how great it is playing the game we both love with my brother. It doesn't get any better than that. We've all been playing together numerous years. Everybody's like a brother. I'm loving and cherishing every moment."


Sports reporter

Jim was keeping standings on his chalkboard from the time he could print and keeping kickball stats in grade school at St. Bridget's. He covers all manner of prep sports for The Times and is a long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan.