Giovonni White threw Quazzel White to the ground during a practice drill, then did some trash talking.
Quazzel picked himself up off the turf at Lincoln High School, smiling.
“You weren’t doing that earlier,” he barked back.
They respectfully shook hands — and the next time they matched up Quazzel drove Giovonni to the turf.
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“Brothers,” Quazzel said afterward. “That’s being brothers.”
Except they aren’t.
They’ve played this prank before. They’re big, strong, tall Lincoln linemen, likely bound for bigger football venues after they graduate. Quazzel is the senior starting at left tackle, Giovonni the sophomore at right tackle.
So for all the people who’ve been hoodwinked to believe that they’re siblings, this is the truth uncovered.
“We just tell people we are brothers and just go with it,” said Giovonni.
“We wouldn’t tell people we were joking, either,” said Quazzel. “We’d be like ‘Yeah … we’re brothers.’ And just leave it at that.”
They’ve even occasionally enlisted the assistance of senior quarterback Joey Sinclair in their antics.
“Everybody thinks they’re brothers, it’s so funny,” Sinclair said. “I was actually helping them out a little bit. They’re so similar, even off the field. That’s why people fall for it so often. They seem like they’re actually brothers.”
Quazzel and Giovonni once envisioned playing on the same side of the offensive line, but Lincoln coach Masaki Matsumoto said they were too valuable not to start as the Abes’ bookend tackles.
Quazzel, at 6-foot-4, 305 pounds, is the lone senior on the offensive line. He’s got 6-2, 270-pound junior Zack Puapuaga at left guard; 5-11, 265-pound junior Ezekiel Sayavong at center; 6-4, 270-pound sophomore Jayden Simon at right guard, and Giovonni, a 6-2, 270-pounder at right tackle.
Is the offensive line the strength of the team?
“Oh, yeah,” Matsumoto said.
Even though it’s so young?
“Shoot, I feel like I could take a nap back there,” Sinclair said.
Only there’s no napping around these self-called White Brothers.
When Matsumoto gave his daily announcements in front of the team earlier this week. Quazzel raised his hand for a presumed question.
“Instead he was like, ‘Hey, guys, tomorrow is my birthday,’ ” Matsumoto said. “ ‘So if anyone wants to get me anything, feel free. Twenty bucks would be nice.’ ”
Said Sayavong: “There is never a dull moment with Quazz. He’s always trying to make someone laugh.”
University of Washington offensive line coach Chris Strausser was at last week’s game against O’Dea, presumably, Matsumoto said, to watch Quazzel and Giovonni.
Both started playing in elementary school, quit for about a year because they said they hated football. Then they got back into it because they were pretty good.
Quazzel said he’s always been one of the bigger, stronger players on his teams.
“Behind me,” Giovonni joked.
Giovonni said he went from benching 185 pounds as a freshman last year to 315 this year. He started for Lincoln as a freshman, but it was more difficult to do the trash talking to Quazzel that he’s able to execute this year.
Though that got the best of Giovonni against O’Dea, Matsumoto said.
“He was a little arrogant,” Matsumoto said. “Which is normal for kids. So I kind of got on him after the game and I said, ‘Hey, I was listening to you yesterday and you were kind of talking like you had a big head.’
“And he was like, ‘I know, coach. I’m sorry about that. Please hold me accountable.’ What kid asks for the coach to be harsh on them? That’s the type of kid he is.”
Quazzel and Giovonni met at the YMCA in downtown Tacoma before Giovonni got to Lincoln, then began to hang out together just about every day, they said — even though Quazzel is two years older.
They frequently hang out at Sinclair’s house. Giovonni will bring his PlayStation so they can play “Madden.”
“I’m better,” Giovonni said.
“No,” Quazzel answered.
“Yeah,” Giovonni said.
“You’ll catch an L right now,” said Quazzel.
“Yeah, you’re trippin’,” Giovonni laughed.
They’re frequently seen beat-boxing and freestyle rapping together on their way to practice.
“I didn’t look at him like he was a freshman last year,” Quazzel said. “I saw him as older because he acts older.”
He’s had to. Giovonni’s been raised by his single mother. He said he looks to Matsumoto as a father figure and his grandmother as a source of inspiration.
“My grandma is that person — she’ll help me out with anything I need,” Giovonni said. “Nobody gives me better advice except for Coach Mat. They both motivate me.”
Quazzel is known as the team goofball. But last week he was the most demonstrative vocal leader against O’Dea — a side Matsumoto said he hadn’t often seen. Quazzel was voted before the season as one of the team’s “agape” leaders.
“We told him after the game how awesome he was on the sideline. It was really impressive because at some point we knew we were going to lose and he was still encouraging the guys,” Matsumoto said. “I always told him, ‘Quazzel, a couple more adjustments in your mindset and you could be a phenomenal leader.’ He’s a great leader, but he could be a phenomenal one.
“Just like a lot of these kids, it’s tough for them at home. That’s why I am so proud of them — they are in school, doing well, they have the grades, and everyone likes Gio and everyone likes Quazzy — even if some teachers may be annoyed. But they are both great kids.”
Quazzel had one more thing to say.
“I’m the better White bro,” he said.
Of course, then Giovonni had to chime in.
“No, I’m the better White bro,” he said.
What are fake brothers for?
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677