The linebackers' bond shows on and off the field
Sports | Jared Nelson for The Clarion
Coach Johnson should have the luxury of at least one Mathis brother in the linebacking corps for years to come. | Drea Chalmers
For Bethel football, camaraderie is as important as any offensive scheme or defensive assignment.
Head coach Steve Johnson believes that it is one of the best parts of the team. “I think it helps us play better, because we're like brothers in everything we do,” he said.
This season, the brotherhood Johnson alluded to has acquired a literal meaning for several players, including junior linebacker Seth Mathis and his younger brother, freshman linebacker Landon Mathis.
The Mathis brothers both stand over six feet tall with muscular frames, and Johnson described them as nothing less than menacing. On the field, the brothers can be recognized by the locks of blond hair flowing out of the backs of their helmets, reminiscent of a lion's mane.
“They're both so physically gifted, but they're really sweet guys as well,” Johnson said of the brothers. “Landon is obviously proud of Seth for all that he's done since he's been here, but what is really special is how proud Seth is of Landon. We could see that even before we had Landon here.”
The brothers’ admiration for each other is evident in their speech, as both are quick to praise the other for what he does on and off the field.
“Landon brings a work ethic that a lot of people don't have," Seth said. "He's very detail-oriented and wants to be perfect in everything he does.”
“When I watch Seth, I want him to succeed, and I try to do what he does,” said Landon. “He brings a physicality to the game unlike anyone else. Seth is really good at reading the offense and seeing things before they happen on the field.”
As a freshman, Landon knows that he still has room for improvement, but he is thankful to be in a position to watch and learn from his brother.
“I've seen it on their faces,” Johnson said. “It’s been fun for them to be on the same team encouraging each other and being around each other every day.”
While the boys were growing up, the Mathis household saw plenty of fierce brotherly competition in basketball, football and even Nintendo. These days, however, the brothers do much more supporting than competing.
“There's a lot of helping each other out now that we're here,” said Seth. “I'm always trying to help [Landon] be the best player he can be.”
Seth is enjoying a successful season, ranked fourth in the MIAC in total tackles and tied for second in interceptions, so expectations are high for younger brother Landon in his career of wearing blue and gold.
“Seth is prototypical of what you want in a football player, and some people can't even think about being that good, but Landon can because he's got the same stuff in him,” said Johnson.
Seth knows that his younger brother's football career is promising, so he holds Landon to higher standards than his other teammates.
“I've seen what Landon can do,” said Seth. “I’m not saying I don't hold my teammates and myself accountable at all times, but it is really different because of our relationship as brothers.”
On the field the Mathis brothers share a physicality, intelligence and love for the game. Off the field they share a hairstyle, competitiveness and a desire to see the other succeed.
“I'm always rooting for him, because I care about him,” said Seth. “It’s more than a football thing. It’s a brother thing.”