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Smith brothers take different tracks to leadership roles
It's rare for siblings to be in the same grade without being twins, but Pierce High seniors Nate and Preston Smith have a habit of standing out.
A year and a half separate the two Smiths, but they started school at the same time because their mother, Heather, was going to college, Preston said.
Despite being on the low end of the age spectrum for a senior, Preston, 16, has never had a problem being younger than his peers.
"I'm just one of the guys. I was always in the middle or most of the time bigger than most of the guys out there. It hasn't really hurt me very much," Preston said.
Nate, 18, enjoys being able to share his school and athletic experiences with his younger brother and they help each other grow.
"I like it, I'd rather have him on varsity," Nate said.
They are competitive with each other off the field but always played different positions so they don't consider themselves competitive with each other on the field, but that doesn't stop them from amusing their coaches with their arguments.
"They're like oil and water," Pierce offensive coordinator Chuck Wayman said.
Nate reminds Pierce head coach Scott Burnum of Ronnie 'Sunshine' Bass from the movie "Remember the Titans" for his laid-back personality, while Preston is more serious and competitive.
The two started playing football together in junior peewees while they lived in Vacaville before moving to Arbuckle in third grade.
Football runs in their family. Their father, Corey, played for Will C. Wood High in Vacaville and they were inspired to play by their uncle, Josh Kline, who played center for the Stockton Lightning in the arenafootball2 league. They have a younger brother, Mason, 10, who plays football too.
Nate is the Bears' starting quarterback and cornerback, while Preston starts at linebacker and on the offensive line. Yet, for all their differences, both developed into leaders for the Bears.
"I'm calling the offensive huddle and he's calling the defensive huddle, as cool as that is," Nate said.
In the first game of the season, a 47-12 road victory against Esparto, Nate ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 40 yards and another score, Preston led the team with five tackles and a sack despite playing less than a half because the Bears rocketed out to a 47-0 lead before halftime.
"I've always been a defensive-minded person and they just kind of stuck me at guard just because I needed to play both ways and I kind of fit there. I don't really look forward to scoring, I don't really want to score. I just want to hit the guy that wants to score," Preston said.
"I'm kind of the opposite. I'm trying to score, even on defense," Nate said.
The Bears went 9-1 in the regular season last year before losing in the first round of the playoffs. The Smith brothers are determined to reach the playoffs again and get Burnum a playoff win, Preston said.
Nate went to the Butte College quarterbacks camp and Preston went to Linebackers Inc. at University of the Pacific in Stockton, where he was ranked second out of 120 camp attendees.
"I thought playing against guys who were from bigger schools would really help. I figured if I go play against guys who were at a higher level, when I come back to our level I'll be that much better," Preston said.
He wants to play college football and his hard work at the camp caught the attention of Humboldt State's defensive coordinator.
Nate would like to play football in college too, but he would like to play quarterback. He backed up Taylor Cabral at that position last season so he hopes to catch a college program's eye with his performance this year.
"I'm going to give my all to this program and see where that gets us. I'm going to try to lead this team further than last year," Nate said.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or email@example.com.