Sports | Jared Nelson
Football brothers from left to right: Matt and J.D. Mehlhorn, Steven and Daniel Plocker, Seth and Landon Mathis, Dillon and Dalton Crum, Bryce and Brandon Marquardt | Photo for The Clarion courtesy of Sports Information
Bethel’s football team is 9-0 (7-0 MIAC) on the season, crowned as the MIAC champions and currently holding onto a No. 6 national ranking. The Royals’ play has been consistent all year long, with a ball-hawking defense to complement a balanced offensive attack with big play capabilities.
According to head coach Steve Johnson, the team’s chemistry has distinguished itself as the most crucial element to the team’s success. Their unity transcends what is normally associated with a team, and it has become a brotherhood. Within the 2013 Bethel brotherhood are five sets of siblings.
The Clarion caught up with the people who know these athletes best to garner insight on what it’s like from a mother’s perspective.
Every parent is proud to see their child have success in a sport they love. Here are five moms who have been lucky enough to see two oftheir sons go through that journey together.
Freshman Dalton joined his sophomore brother Dillon on the gridiron this season, where Dillon starts on the offensive line, and Dalton is a defensive end. The Crums hail from Kirkland, Wash., where they played together on the varsity team at Juanita High School. While their mother Kristi wishes the boys were closer to home, she couldn’t be happier they chose to attend the same school.
“We’d love for them to be at a school in our backyard where we could be at every game,” she said, “but the Lord took them both that way, we’re so happy they’re together.” Kristi noted that it was no surprise that Dalton chose to follow Dillon to school, as they’ve been close and have gotten along well their entire lives. However, Dillon stayed out of Dalton’s college decision for the most part.
“Once Dalton realized Dillon was going to be so far away, that put Bethel on his short list of colleges,” Kristi said, “but Dillon was gracious and let Dalton come to that decision on his own.”
Although the Crum boys have always gotten along well, Kristi said that they’ve had their share of friendly competition. Because of their laid back disposition, they’ve remained extremely close.
“They could be pretty competitive but Dillon is the bigger kid as far as size goes but he has the more easy going personality,” she said.
“They really got along well when they were kids. If Dillon had the more aggressive personality, he would’ve beat Dalton up a lot,” Kristi added with a laugh.
Before Daniel and Steven Plocker donned the Royal blue and gold, they sported maroon for Blue Earth Area High School, playing together on both the basketball court and the football field. This season, Daniel, a junior, plays wide receiver and Steven, a freshman, has gotten snaps on the defensive line.
Coming from a small town, Daniel and Steven grew up with a lot of mutual friends, spending a significant amount of time hanging out with one another, always playing sports to satisfy their competitive drive.
“They were competitive but they’ve always been an encouragement to one another and have gotten along,” Becky Plocker, mother of the two boys said. “They enjoy playing together and like hanging out, which is neat for us as parents.”
Despite Daniel’s silence during Steven’s college decision, Becky says the older brother played a significant role in the younger’s choice to attend Bethel, as Steven watched Daniel closely for his first two years of school.
“Just by watching Daniel and being with him at Bethel, [Steven] could see all the positives that came with this place,” Becky said. “It wasn’t until the very end that Daniel told Steven that he hoped he would come to Bethel, speaking highly of his experiences there both athletically and academically.”
According to their mother, Daniel and Steven have different personalities, but they both possess qualities that make for a successful student-athlete.
“They’re both conscientious and responsible,” Becky said. “They set high goals for themselves and they’re hard working. Steven is a little more reserved, while Daniel is pretty outgoing.”
Seth and Landon Mathis, senior and sophomore respectively, are a foreboding sight for opposing offenses, standing tall as linebackers for the Bethel defense with long golden locks flowing out of the back of their helmets. The visual resemblance is undeniable, but their mother Brenda claims that their personalities differ significantly.
“Landon was always the more sociable one,” Brenda remembered of their childhood. “He’s very lighthearted and social, while Seth is more quiet.” Brenda talked about how Landon used to help his older brother when they were younger, because Seth was bashful around strangers. It’s hard to imagine Bethel’s All-American being anything but bold, but Brenda notes that her boys have grown a lot since coming to Bethel, and she couldn’t be more proud.
Seth and Landon are just two of five sons in the Mathis family, and their bond on the football field has had a positive impact on the family as a whole.
“When the boys were younger there were some brotherly things going on,” Brenda said with a laugh. “There were some pretty wild driveway basketball games, but it was all in good fun and as they got older their respect for one another grew.” Brenda said Bethel football games have become events for the entire family, as all of the brothers come out in support of Seth and Landon.
The Bethel defense is happy to have the Mathis brothers on their side, and they just might have Seth to thank for getting Landon to suit up for the blue and gold.
“Seth was definitely a recruiter,” Brenda said. “He wanted his little brother there because he knew what Landon was capable of and he had a deep appreciation for the college when he started going there.” As a mother, Brenda relishes the chance to see her sons work together every Saturday.
“In a game this year, Landon pulled up a divot in his face mask and he was blinded on one side. There was a pause in the game and we saw Seth go over and clean Landon’s helmet for him,” Brenda said. “That’s what its about. He nurtures and takes care of his little brother and we’re really proud of that."
Mothers of college football players often have some understanding of the sport so that she can converse with her son. Marcy Marquardt, mother of junior Brandon and freshman Bryce Marquardt, is a genuine football junkie. Brandon is the starting running back and Bryce gets reps at wide receiver as well as being an effective utility player on special teams. She’s become a connoisseur through the years of watching her boys play, and it pays off now as both of her sons are on the field together.
“Its a little more challenging with both of them on the field together,” Marcy said. “I go home and re-watch the game and watch them both individually. I never know who to watch when they’re both doing something,” she laughed. While Marcy jokes about the difficulties of watching both of her boys, she said that she loves seeing them have success on the same team.
“Its just amazing to see them out there,” Marcy said. “They’re on kick return together and it’s a rush for me as their mother. I’m always on the edge of my seat.”
According to Marcy, the Marquardts have always bonded over athletics. Four years separate Brandon and Bryce so they often played and ran in different circles growing up. However, the brothers were always supportive of one another as Bryce cheered Brandon on ever since high school and Brandon returned the favor.
“They help each other too,” Marcy said. “Brandon has been helpful to Bryce, teaching him the game and practicing with him. I think that playing together has really brought them closer.”
Brandon and Bryce both bring speed and sure hands to the Bethel offense, but Marcy is the first to say that the similarities extend far beyond the athletic field.
“They’re driven and always strive for the best,” Marcy said, “and they love their relationships on the team more than anything. If one is in a pile, it’s the other that’s always yanking people off the pile. You can tell they’re protective and they’re always watching out for each other.”
Matt Mehlhorn is a sophomore and has had the opportunity this season to start in the secondary next to his older brother J.D., a senior safety. According to their mother Cindy, J.D. and Matt have always been competitive with one another, but they’ve used it to better themselves and didn’t lead to conflict.
“Being younger, Matt has always tried to match J.D.’s accomplisments as much as he could,” Cindy said. “To this day, Matt knows all the scores and where J.D. stands athletically and academically and he keeps that in the back of his mind.” Cindy notes that Matt has always been trying to make his own mark as a result of J.D's. athletic and academic success, and he’s improved because of it.
On the same line, J.D. monitors the progress of his younger brother and uses it as a type of motivation.
“JD wants Matt to do well, but he wants to do better,” Cindy said lightheartedly. “When’s he’s gone, then Matt can do better.” All competition aside, Cindy said that her sons are one another’s biggest supporters.
“J.D. looks out for Matt even though it’s not something he does on purpose,” Cindy said. “He’s not out there promoting or defending his brother but behind the scenes, he’s always looking out for him.”
She said that the boys share similarities in terms of their God-given gifts, both on the field and in the classroom, but one of their differences lie in the way they present themselves.
“Matt is all about style,” Cindy laughed. “If he looks good, he feels good. If he feels good, he plays good. As opposed to J.D., who couldn’t care less what he wears or what he looks like.”
Cindy has appreciated seeing J.D. and Matt line up in the secondary together, saying that this has been a dream come true for her.
“At the beginning of the season, I remember thinking I would love for them to be on the field together for just one play, it’s a mom thing,” Cindy said. “Being able to see them play together has been so much fun, I just love it.” One particular moment earlier this season stands out to Mrs. Mehlhorn.
“When Matt ran the interception 100 yards for the touchdown, my favorite part was seeing J.D. pat him on the back in the end zone, saying good job,” Cindy said. “[My husband and I] are so proud and grateful for our boys.”