Mondi brothers cherish chance to play linebacker together
Two weeks ago against Shawnee Mission West, Lawrence High junior linebacker Caleb Mondi was running behind a play and watched a big hit unfold near the sideline.
When Mondi took a closer look at the end of the play, he realized it was his younger brother, Cole, who delivered the tackle.
It’s the first time the Mondi brothers have played on the same football team. Throughout the past two games, they’ve lined up alongside each other at linebacker. Cole Mondi, a freshman, plays middle linebacker, and Caleb positions himself on the outside.
The two brothers used to scrimmage against each other in youth football, but it’s a different feeling when they are on the same side. Their only other experience playing together was in several baseball tournaments. The Lions (3-2) will face Olathe South (1-4) at 6 p.m. today at LHS. Kickoff was moved up one hour in anticipation of inclement weather.
“It’s been really fun actually,” Caleb Mondi said. “You get to coach him up during practice and kind of beat him up a little bit too away from the house.”
Cole Mondi is believed to be the first freshman to start in a game in program history. In his varsity debut, he said he relied on his brother telling him what to do on virtually every play.
When Cole didn’t follow instructions during one blitz, running into the wrong gap, his brother didn’t hesitate to let him know about the mistake.
“He was like, ‘What are you doing? You went through the wrong gap!'” said Cole, chuckling at the memory. “I just had to get used to it.”
Lawrence coach Dirk Wedd said both of the Mondi players remind him of their dad, Mike, who played at the school in the mid-1990s.
Called up from the freshman team, it only took one practice for Cole to notice the faster game speed and size of players.
“He was like, ‘Man, these guys are actually kind of good,'” Caleb said. “… It’s the first challenge he’s actually really had in a while.”
But Caleb wasn’t surprised to see his little brother make the transition to varsity. In fact, he was a little surprised it took so long. He knew his talent would help him play above his age.
Both brothers said they have similar personalities. Even on the field, they look alike.
“He’s done well,” Wedd said of the freshman. “He’s learning as on-the-job training, a crash course. But he’s a great kid. We wouldn’t put him in that situation if we didn’t think he could handle it both mentally and physically.”
During the summer, Caleb moved from playing receiver to linebacker. It’s a new position for him at the varsity level, but he grew comfortable with more experience. Now he’s watching his younger brother go through the same process.
“It’s really cool,” Caleb said. “Our whole family loves it. They always love watching us walk out holding hands and everything like that. Playing together like brothers on the field too, backing each other up.”
LHS probable starters
LT — Kristian Russell, sr.
LG — Nick Englebert, sr.
C — Jacob Mills, sr.
RG — John Ely, sr.
RT — Bryce Tibke, jr.
QB — Dante Jackson, sr.
RB — Hunter Krom, sr.
WR — Ekow Boye-Doe, sr.
WR — Jalen Dudley, sr.
WR — Brett Chapple, jr.
WR — Bryson Cummins, jr.
K — Ross Brungardt, jr.
P — Dante Jackson, sr.
DE — Eric Galbreath, jr.
DT — Tim Vongphachanh, sr.
DT — EJ Jewsome, jr.
DE — Sam Bart, jr.
LB — Ja’Relle Dye, sr.
LB — Cole Mondi, fr.
LB — Caleb Mondi, jr.
CB — Ekow Boye-Doe, sr.
CB — DeShon Lewis, so.
SS — Jakoby Masters, jr.
FS — Harrison King, sr.