BROTHERS Thomas Eidsvik, left, got the first chance to play on the field with his brother Caleb, during the Huskies exhibition game against the Marauders late last month. SUBMITTED PHOTO
The University of Saskatchewan Huskies 22-10 exhibition loss to Hamilton’s McMaster University Marauders late last month provided the headline for most football news clips, but the real game story centered around two brothers from Marwayne.
Caleb and Thomas Eidsvik realized a years’ long pursuit at Ron Joyce Stadium on Aug. 25, when both players stepped onto the field as teammates for the first time.
Caleb, 23, lined up as the Huskies starting offensive lineman, while Thomas, 20, saw duty as part of the team’s defensive tackle rotation.
“That was pretty sweet,” said Caleb, who is in his final year of eligibility with the Huskies.
“We have a third brother (Eli) and he’s a year older than me. I played with him for a couple of years in bantam and then in high school, so to finally play with my younger brother was cool.”
The two brothers have enjoyed the opportunity to practice together for the past two seasons as Thomas worked for his chance to dress in a game through participating as a red shirt member of the Huskies show team.
As a red shirt, Thomas acted as part of a mock defence during practices in an effort to give their offence an opportunity to plan around what they were going to face that weekend.
“My second year I did really well on the show team,” said Thomas.
“I got the show team player of the year award, and then they just liked my effort and hustle, and this spring they made the decision they were going to give me more looks.”
Thomas’ path toward playing for the Huskies resembles that of his brother. Both Marwayne boys grew up playing football for the Lloydminster Comprehensive High School Barons albeit with different positions.
Caleb spent his years with the Barons trying to kill the quarterback as a member of the defensive line before getting switched to the protect-the-pivot position upon joining the Huskies.
Thomas played his formative years as a Barons offensive lineman until moving to defensive tackle for university football.
A few years practising as a red shirt also comprised each brother’s first couple of seasons with the Huskies.
Caleb put his nose to the grindstone during his first two years as a practice player and dressed in the rotation for the next year-and-a-half, before finally cracking the starting lineup midway through the 2015 season.
“I like to think that maybe my work ethic gave them a bug in their ear that they might have a shot in having another hard worker in Thomas too,” said Caleb, noting Barons coach Larry Sauer played a big role in getting him on the Huskies radar.
“I let them know he was coming up and he was pretty cooperative. Then they looked at him, and I think he sent some tape too, so it was more of a recruiting process for him than it was for me. So, he really earned his spot on this team.”
Caleb said playing university football takes a lot of work on and off the field.
He said there is a bit of free time in the mornings, so that’s when he books his Agriculture and Bioresources classes, but each of their afternoons are filled with workouts with the team’s trainers, followed by film sessions before the team hits the field for practice.
“Then practice may be done at 7:30 p.m. and depending on the day of the week, we might have some more film after practice,” he said.
“A couple of nights a week you’ll stay late. You might not get out of there until 9-9:30 p.m., but you’ve got the whole night to recover from that.
So, it’s not too bad.”
The payoff for this hard work is getting the chance to play for an adoring crowd of thousands during the Huskies home games at Griffiths Stadium, noted Caleb.
He said the fans will let you hear about it off the field if you played a bad game, but once on the field they’re behind you 110 per cent.
“Once you get into the game you try and shut that down as much as you can, but when you’re on the sidelines you really enjoy it and you want them to be as loud as possible,” said Caleb.
“It’s amazing to be around, especially if there are a couple of thousand people there and all of the fireworks that our sponsors put on. To be part of that is something you’ll never forget.”
Thomas said a few other universities expressed interest in recruiting him, but his brother’s connection to the University of Saskatchewan kept him coming over to Saskatoon for workouts, allowing the Huskies staff to show their interest.
He said getting a chance to study for an Agriculture and Bioresources degree while continuing with football also played a part in his decision.
“Eli and Caleb got to play together whether it was bantam or high school and I was always too young,” said Thomas. “It was just the natural thing to come here when Caleb did. He enjoyed it and I thought that would be an awesome experience to play together.”