Kaneakua and Kala Friel are two years apart in age.
They are brothers at BYU and Utah, separated by a 45-minute drive and one of the best rivalries in college sports. And while the Reilly brothers will have the biggest spotlight Saturday night, the Friels also will be on opposite sidelines.
Kaneakua starts at tight end for the Cougars. His run-blocking will be an important element, as well as his and pass-catching ability.
Kala, a sophomore offensive tackle, is a backup. He has worked on the Ute scout team in practice, which meaning he has been wearing BYU blue all week. For two brothers who always wanted to play college football together, wearing the same color uniform at different schools is the closest they will come.
"I wanted Kala to come here," Kaneakua Friel said. "I wanted to play next to him. I would’ve loved to play side-by-side with my brother. But he’s fulfilling the goal of being a college athlete. I don’t think it changes anything. If my brother was on the field, maybe it would change something. If he was a defensive player, it would probably change a little bit more."
The Friel brothers always were close while growing up in Hawaii and played on the same teams as they matured. They typically talk almost every day. But the phone calls and text messages have ceased this week, for understandable reasons.
Their father, Thomas, says that the family downplays the brother angle and that both will be a winners regardless. And while the Friel brothers don’t have a bet between them, Kala says he’ll try to make his older sibling cook him breakfast if the Utes come out on top. After all, he is an offensive lineman, so eating well is a must.
"We’re both going to play as hard as we can and then talk a little smack to each other after the game," Kala said. "I support him in all that he does, and he’s doing really well. He supports me and tries to help me get better."
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