Being twin brothers, Mike and Will Davis are naturally compared to each other in every endeavor they undertake.
The Manchester Essex twins have done everything together since they were born - hang out together, compete in the same sports, take the same classes and a bit of a friendly sibling rivalry has developed between the two.
“There’s always a competition between us, no matter what we’re doing,” Will Davis said. “We are always trying to beat each other out and one up each other, it’s part of having a twin brother.”
Fortunately for Hornets head coach Mike Athanas and unfortunately for opponents, the Davis brothers have channeled that sibling rivalry into results on the football field. The twins man each defensive end spot on a Manchester Essex unit that is developing into a real strength, and by pushing each other, the two have brought their respective games, and the defensive unit as a whole, to the next level.
“They have both been a huge help to us at defensive end this year,” Athanas said. “They have a little size, they can move, they’re strong and they’re tough. It’s nice to have one of them on each end.”
The Davis’ have always been around the culture of football growing up in Louisiana, where their uncle was an All State tight end, but did not take up the game until recently, Mike as an eighth grader in Louisiana and Will as a freshman for Manchester Essex.
When their family moved to Manchester, where their father grew up and played on the 1981 Hornets Super Bowl team, the brothers immediately signed up to play football for the Hornets.
“I played my eighth grade year in Louisiana and our family has really given the motivation to play,” Mike Davis said. “Down south everyone’s big on football, it’s a different culture but when we got here we were hooked on the sport and we loved it.”
Louisiana is still a place where the brothers frequently visit, including time this past summer, where they tirelessly prepared for their senior football season.
“We found a gym there with other athletes and we just pushed each other every day,” Will Davis said.
This fall, both Mike and Will have given Manchester Essex a veteran, physical presence on both the offensive and defensive lines. Mike has settled nicely into his offensive line spot while Will has successfully made the transition from tight end to guard.
Defense, however, is where the twins excel.
Naturally both Will and Mike have similar skill sets as they enjoy taking on opposing blockers and stuffing the opponents running attack. The Davis’, each two year starters at defensive end for the Hornets, have both played key roles in the rise of the defense this fall.
Over the last two weeks, Manchester Essex has allowed just 24 points in wins over Greater Lawrence and Georgetown, and the defensive line, anchored by the two brothers, has given opposing running backs little or nothing to work with in terms of running room.
“In the scheme we play, our first focus is stuffing the run,” Mike Davis said. “I know Will can get after the quarterback if he needs to, but we’ve faced mostly run oriented teams this year and we will again on Saturday against Lynnfield. Our job is to take on blocks, contain the end and stuff the running lanes. We take pride in that role.”
At 2-1, the Davis brothers and the entire Hornets defense will need to be on top of their game tomorrow when the team travels to Lynnfield to meet the defending Cape Ann League Small champion and Division 3A Super Bowl runner up Pioneers (3 p.m.).
Fortunately, the twins have confidence in each other to contain each end.
“Whenever I see (the opponent) running multiple plays to the other side I’m not worried because I know Mike’s there to make a play,” Will Davis said. “I know he feels the same way. We just need to play our game and trust our teammates and it’s nice having your brother playing the other end who you know you can trust.”