More than a few times last season, varsity offensive linemen at Graham-Kapowsin High School sought out the sympathetic ear of longtime coach Eric Kurle.
They didn’t necessarily come to complain about a pair of newcomer ninth-grade twins – Curtis and Hunter Hill – occupying spots on the scout-team defensive line.
But their brooding spirits and bruised egos were easy to sense.
“Let’s just say when they went against our varsity guys last year, it would turn out to be some of the best practices ever,” Kurle said. “They would tell me, ‘Man, they are better than anybody we’ve faced (in the 4A SPSL).’
“At first, they were frustrated, like, ‘What are these young guys doing.?’ But they grew to learn that was just them.”
Consider the rest of the league warned.
It is pretty clear, based on effort, strength and determination, these Hill brothers mean business for the Eagles.
Both start right next to each other this season as sophomores on the defensive line.
Curtis Hill, at 6-foot-2, 270 pounds, is a defensive tackle. He set the single-season school record in wrestling last season as a ninth grader with 45 wins in placing fifth at Mat Classic.
“It is pure explosiveness, strength and man power,” said Hunter Hill. “He bullies kids on the line.”
Hunter Hill, at 6-2, 245, is a defensive end. He also has a wrestling background, and was a state participant at 220 pounds as a ninth grader.
“He’s fast and very good get-off,” Curtis Hill said. “As an offensive tackle, if you are going against somebody like that who is in your face on your second step (back), it is scary. He is good with his hands.”
Kurle paired them together on the strong side of the defensive line for a reason: They handle double teams with ease.
“With their wrestling background, they can split them,” Kurle said.
And yet, to hear them explain why they play football with such a nasty edge, there is certainly a method to their madness.
“If you are rough with the other team … it gets in their head,” Curtis Hill said. “And when you get them thinking that is what you will do again, that is when you can use a skill move to get past them.”
The Hill brothers have heavily invested in their craft away from school. After training with Heir Football Academy heading into high school, they now work out full time at Athletic Edge Performance, which specifically focuses on offensive and defensive linemen development.
During the offseason, the Hills traveled to Federal Way to train with Faipea Avaava, a Boise State alum, five days a week.
Last April, both brothers were invited to the Polynesian Bowl Combine and Showcase in Las Vegas where Curtis was named the most valuable player of the defensive line group.
At the University of Washington camp a couple months later, both Hills were co-MVPs for their position group.
“They are going to play you tough … but they are not cheap-shot guys at all,” Kurle said. “They are always looking for ways to set moves up.”
For as much time as they spend together – they are area youth wrestling instructors after football practice – the Hill boys rarely get into scraps with each other.
They will get in heated arguments. But physical altercations?
“I broke his bed over the summer,” Curtis Hill said. “I mean, he tackled me into it, so I guess he really broke his own bed.”
Quietly, the two teenagers grinned thinking about the instance.
“They are great kids,” Kurle said. “And they have fun.”