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Mission Viejo's Schoolers a perfect pairing
Brenden and Colin Schooler have always had each other.
From sharing a bunk bed growing up to their youthful wrestling duels to becoming closely followed high school athletes, the brothers have been a duo that mostly stuck together.
“I had the top bunk,” Brenden said with a smile.
“Messy,” Colin said of his brother in a quick counter. “Taking socks, taking underwear.”
For the past two football seasons, there has been no disputing the talents of the Schoolers on the field.
Brenden and Colin are major reasons Mission Viejo (15-0) has advanced to the CIF State Division I-AA championship game Friday night against Bellarmine Prep of San Jose (13-1) at Sacramento State. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.
The boys have combined to make 200 tackles on defense and a long list of momentum-shifting plays on offense and special teams.
“They’re off the charts,” Mission Viejo coach Bob Johnson said.
Some of the brothers’ best maneuvers have been in blending with new teammates.
The Schoolers helped Trabuco Hills capture the CIF Southwest Division title last season. Their transfer to Mission Viejo sent shockwaves through football-crazed south county in August.
At Mission Viejo, the brothers transitioned smoothly, not just as a duo but as teammates.
“Great kids, on and off the field,” Mission Viejo senior quarterback Brock Johnson said. “Monumental (additions).”
Brenden, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound senior safety/receiver, said knowing some of the Mission Viejo players before his arrival helped his transition. He knew Peyton Marshall, Hayden King and Jared Rumsey from playing Pop Warner for the Santa Margarita Lions.
“They took us in like family,” Brenden said of his Mission Viejo teammates.
The brothers took the attitude that they were going to earn their own way.
Colin, a 6-2, 210-pound junior, has been a workhorse at running back the past two games with 71 carries for 314 yards and four touchdowns, but he was quiet early in the season.
“They knew about Trabuco, but we definitely had to earn our spots,” Colin said of the team’s coaches. “It wasn’t until Week 3 or 4 until I actually started in a game (at linebacker).”
The brothers are fixtures now.
Colin has picked up the slack for injured running back Isaiah Miller (knee), who was lost during the CIF-SS playoffs. At outside linebacker, he has 116 total tackles and nine sacks.
Brenden has racked up 84 total tackles and three interceptions. On special teams, he has blocked two field goals and two punts. The receiver/tight end also caught touchdowns in three of the four CIF-SS West Valley playoff games.
The brothers worked in concert in the West Valley final at Vista Murrieta. Brenden made a diving interception with about one minute left in the third quarter, leading to Colin’s go-ahead 1-yard touchdown run early in the fourth in a 21-14 victory.
Colin closed the game with 12 consecutive carries to run out the final 5:48.
“That sealed the deal,” Brenden said. “And he kept bringing the wood every play, too. He wasn’t backing off. He’s definitely one of our bruiser backs.”
Brenden was vital on special teams by containing standout returner Kyle Williams.
The boys delivered similar playoff successes last season at Trabuco Hills.
Two months after that Southwest final, Coach Tony Henney resigned after one season at Trabuco Hills to take the reins at Westlake.
The Southern Section reviewed the transfer of the Schoolers, which for Brenden, sent him to his fourth high school. He attended Tesoro as a freshman and Dana Hills as a sophomore. Mission Viejo is Colin’s third school.
The section approved the Schoolers’ transfer as a valid change of residence on Aug. 26, a few days before the Diablos’ second game of the season.
“When people transfer, people will make a big deal out of it, but it happens all the time,” Brenden said. “(The move) has worked out. I go to school and I have friends.”
Colin understands some of the frustration about the transfer, but hopes people can get past it.
“I wish nothing but the best of luck to them (Trabuco Hills),” Colin said. “They just had mixed emotions at first when we transferred. We still keep in touch with them. We still have friends over there.”
No matter how the story ends Friday night in Sacramento, the Schooler brothers will always have each other, too.
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