Fraternal twins Tim and James Eklund are as different as their Swedish and Mexican ancestry.
The West Valley brothers are two-sport athletes, playing both football and baseball.
James, rebellious as a youngster, is more suited for football.
Tim, more introspective and quiet, prefers baseball.
He has missed class just one time in six years and earns mostly A’s and B’s. Sports never came easy, but he succeeded with hard work.
By contrast, James is the more natural athlete - and more likely to make C’s in class. When he was a freshman, football coach Steve Kent wasn’t sure he would complete school.
“He had a huge behavioral problem as a freshman and was defiant,” said Kent.
The brothers are of a single mind, however, when it comes to the upcoming Eagle football season. There is unfinished business to do.
“We could have played Cheney better and should have beaten Pullman and EV,” said James.
Added his brother, “We’re going to go farther this year.”
Because of players like the Eklunds, including nine returning starters on offense and defense from last year’s 4-4-1 team, WV is being mentioned among the Frontier League favorites.
The Eagles return their entire backfield, including quarterback/safety Riley Allen, who went with the Eklunds to a football camp in Utah.
Justin Tichy returns as a tailback/defensive back as do receiver/nose guard Andy Imada, receiver/defensive back Joe Andrews and tight end/linebacker Ty Gregorak.
New are runner Eric Enger and receiver Jason Whitney.
Returning up front are guard/linebacker Joe Bonner, two-way linemen Ben Giroux, Beau McCarty, Ryan Stockton, linebacker Will Herndon, Jeremy Lukens, Luke Rieker and newcomer Josh Miller.
The Eklunds were two of the most dedicated players in WV’s off-season conditioning program, missing just once while at football camp in Utah.
“I want them both on the field as much as possible,” said Kent.
James is a returning starter at fullback and linebacker, although he is two inches shorter and 10 pounds lighter at 5-foot-10 and 180-pounds than his brother.
Tim is a backup tight end and linebacker, but will be in the lineup.
“He’s got to fit in somewhere,” said Kent. “He worked as hard as anyone.”
The sons of Jerry and Anna Eklund began playing tackle football in the fourth grade when the family lived in Kennewick.
They moved here six years ago and James got a head start with the Eagles when Tim missed their sophomore season after rupturing his spleen in a baseball accident.
His dad credits assistant coach Tim Connors and former assistant Jim Fisk with helping in James’s turnaround.
“I won’t say he was difficult (to raise),” said his dad, Jerry, “but he was interesting. He just went against authority. Sports is the only thing that saved him.”
By contrast, Tim has never said much or acted on his feelings. His dad said he’ll be a millionaire someday.
“I’m still goofy and have always been difficult,” admitted James. “I want to get it done. Tim’s slow and patient.”
Except when it comes to this year’s Frontier football season. , DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: WV SCHEDULE Sept. 8 Lewiston at WV, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 15 Post Falls at WV, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 WV at Sandpoint, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 29 WV at Colville, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6 Pullman at WV, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13 WV at East Valley, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 20 Clarkston at WV, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27 WV at Riverside, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3 Cheney at WV, 7:30 p.m.