ELIZABETHTOWN — It’s often typical that high-school athletic teams will benefit from a younger sibling following the career of an older brother or sister. It’s not as typical to have a set of brothers performing on the varsity at a high level at the same time.
East Bladen’s gridiron Eagles have three sets.
“It’s pretty unusual,” said head football coach Robby Priest. “It really helps to create a family atmosphere here.”
The Eagles’ offensive backfield has two sets of senior brothers — Farrell and Larrell Murchison, as well as Isaiah Young and Demond Gamble. There is also a sophomore set of brothers in Ethan and Eian Hines, each of whom are receivers and defensive backs.
The family connections go much further at Eagles practices than simply create a close-knit atmosphere.
“It’s really created another level of competition,” Priest said. “They are always trying to outdo each other, whether it’s in the weightroom, on the practice field or just about anywhere.”
Priest said it’s been a good thing for the entire team.
“It’s definitely a unique situation,” he said. “They push each other pretty hard, and it kind of rubs off on the rest of the team.”
Not only teammates, either. Priest said the coaches like to joke with the siblings about “who’s going to get the biggest piece of chicken (at dinner) or who’s going to have to clean the other’s room.”
He added that, while the downside to the situation is that the Eagles will lose the brothers at the same time, it’s giving the rest of the team a solid core of players to look up to.
“We have a lot of leaders on the team, but these six are leading by putting in a lot of effort and outworking everyone else,” Priest said. “All six are starters, and they’ve all had a positive affect on the rest of the team.
“They have a tighter bond than the rest of the team has,” Priest added. “They have that brotherly bond on top of the usual teammate bond, and that’s carried from the classroom to the field and home.”
Collectively, Priest said the six players give East Bladen a flexibility the Eagles haven’t had in a while.
“They give us a good mix of physical presence, athleticism and speed,” he said. “They give us a lot of weapons on offense, and they play good, hard team defense.”
The Eagles have 10 seniors on their varsity roster, and the two sets of graduating brothers represent 40 percent of that group — something that will make East Bladen’s Senior Night a bit different.
“It’s always tough losing the seniors, because they’ve usually been with you for three or four years,” Priest said. “But this class has a little different spin to it.”
Senior Night for the Eagles will be held Friday, Oct. 31, prior to the Four County Conference game against Union High.
Although the brothers are all close is age — Farrell is 15 minutes older than Larrell; Ethan is 1 minute older than Eian; and Demond is 11 months older than Isaiah — there is no doubt among them which brother is the better athlete. When asked who the better athlete is, they each quickly raised their hand.
“That wasn’t predictable, was it?” Priest said.