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Originally published Friday, September 14, 2018 at 05:59a.m.

KINGMAN – Matt and Mike Bathauer are always looking for opportunities to push each other to be better. Whether it be in football, baseball or the weight room, the Bathauer twins live and breathe competition.

“My brother and I have always had that bond since freshman year, basically,” Matt said. “We’ve always had the hip-to-hip thing in football. We’ve always wanted to outwork everyone, just beat everyone off the ball. We want to compete to be No. 1 and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

That drive has propelled the pair of senior linemen to the top and they’ve shown it this season for the Lee Williams High School football team.

Matt leads the Vols with 30 tackles and one sack, while Mike is close behind with 21 tackles and four sacks. The brothers have also excelled in punt blocking – Matt has three and Mike has one.

“You just have to focus on doing your job,” Mike said. “I tell Matt that and he tells me, ‘Make sure you do your job every play. You have to work hard. You have to beat this guy. Even if you don’t beat him this play, you can beat him the next play.’”

Lee Williams head coach Clint Sasse has seen that mentality thrive ever since the Bathauers started playing varsity during their sophomore year.

“They’ve improved vastly,” Sasse said. “It’s tough to contain them in any sense of the game. I’ve talked to a few coaches and they’re trying to figure out how to stop the Bathauers, or contain the Bathauers. You have seen a huge progression and they’ve had a couple of good summers and winters in the weight room.”

But the journey is quickly reaching its end – at least at the high school level. The Bathauers likely only have six games left on the gridiron together and then could be headed to different colleges.

“I’ve played football with all of these kids forever,” Matt said. “And knowing that we’re leaving it all is kind of bittersweet. These coaches coached me since my sophomore year and I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done for me.”

Mike shared the same feelings, but he knows that they’ll still be right there for each other no matter where they end up.

“College-wise, I get that we probably won’t (be on the same team),” Mike said. “I’ll just have to get used to that. But Matt and I have always pushed each other. We’re just going to have to learn to push each other without one another (in college).”

There is still unfinished business though.

That starts Friday night when Bradshaw Mountain comes to town to open the 4A Grand Canyon Region schedule. The Bears (4-0) are ranked No. 7 in 4A according to MaxPreps.com and they’ve racked up 1,346 yards of total offense.

Running back Anthony Mata leads Bradshaw Mountain with 431 yards on the ground and five touchdowns. But the Bears also have two more playmakers in Austin Gonzales and Logan Brannan.

Gonzales has not only passed for 368 yards and seven touchdowns, but the signal caller also has 203 yards and a score on the ground. Brannan, meanwhile, has rushed for 201 yards and five touchdowns.

“If we have a good week of practice, I truly believe we can beat Bradshaw,” Mike said. “Watching on film, we are just as physical, if not more physical as them – and athletic. If we prepare right, we will come out of this game with a win.”

It would be a program-defining victory for Lee Williams and also come on one of the biggest nights of the year – Homecoming. That fact could sometimes affect a team, but the Vols (2-2) are determined not to let it get in their heads.

“I don’t really think Homecoming will take our minds off the game,” Matt said. “We’ll be focused more on winning the game for Homecoming. Realistically you always say, ‘It’s our Homecoming game and you never want to lose.’”