Bros before foes
Maselera brothers reunite as Gorillas
Michael Bauer | reporter
The rain beat down on the players’ helmets. The drizzling conditions soaked Brandenburg Field at Carnie Smith Stadium.
On one sideline, in the red PSU uniform, was cornerback Israel Maselera, a fifth-year senior in communication, who goes by the nickname Izzy.
On the other sideline, in white, playing at safety, was his younger brother Isaac, a junior transfer from Oklahoma State who is majoring in physical education.
This was a rare time in which Izzy and Isaac were playing against each other on separate teams.
But this wasn’t a regular football game. This was the Spring Game, a glorified practice within the Pittsburg State Gorillas football team between the Red and White teams in front of a small Saturday morning crowd of 1,000.
The Maselera brothers have been reunited at Pittsburg State for the upcoming season. It’ll be the first time since their high school playing days at Glenpool High School in Tulsa, Okla., that they will be lining up on the same team.
“It’s good to get to work with my brother every day, which is what I like to see, because we get to work on the small things that nobody gets to see,” Isaac said. “Like working on each other’s character and everything that involves football.”
The brothers are inseparable and their schedule helps explain.
The first thing Isaac does in the morning is get dressed, climb into his car and pick up his older brother Izzy.
The duo rendezvous at PSU with the rest of the Gorilla football team to prepare for practice. After a morning of running and workouts, the brothers will often go back to Izzy’s place for much needed sleep and relaxation until it’s time for class.
“Sometimes he’ll sleep at my place until practice,” Izzy said.
During the Spring Game, a taunt of “you’re looking a little slow there, 15!” came from the Red sideline, directed at Isaac.
Isaac responded to the joke from his teammates with a merciless collar tackle on a receiver.
For the record, it’s not Izzy who shouted it.
Just like with most siblings, the two have had their share of teasing each other, fighting for who is momma’s favorite and trying to outdo one another while playing football as kids.
“If I scored a touchdown, (Izzy) would be mad because I was the younger one,” Isaac said. “I always wanted to play, but I was young. We pretty much mocked each other.”
But those days have passed, and Isaac and Izzy keep the rivalry mutual.
“We compete against each other but apparently, we’re both good, so we don’t like to compare,” Izzy says.
It also helps that both are defensive players at different positions so it’s unlikely that they will have to line on opposite sides of the football.
However, it’s not impossible to find ways of scoring the two when it comes to playing on the field.
“I’m sure we want to make plays more than the other one,” Isaac said.
But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been any comedic moments when it comes to football between the Maselera brothers.
In high school, they used to have nicknames for each other. Izzy would refer to Isaac as “giraffe” because of the younger brother’s height and weight. That was before Isaac became 6 feet tall and weighing 183 pounds.
“Now he’s big and buff so we can’t say that now,” Izzy says, who is smaller at 5 feet, 8 inches, weighing 158.
But being the older sibling doesn’t stop Izzy there.
“Since I’m the bigger brother, I can still give him a few moves,” Izzy says, laughing.
Late in the Spring Game, White team quarterback Will Harrington attempted a pass to the endzone to receiver Austin Daniel.
But Daniel was covered by Izzy and the pass fell incomplete. Izzy, it turns out, can show his brother’s team some moves, too.
Winning Runs in the Family
The Maselera brothers last played on the same squad in 2008, for the Glennpool Warriors. Izzy was a senior while Isaac was a sophomore. That season, the Warriors won the school’s second state championship.
The two are aiming for similar success for the Gorillas in 2013.
“I feel real good about it, because we’ve always had suc
cess playing together and we’re hoping to transfer it to the college level,” Izzy said.
The Pittsburg State coaches are hoping for the same thing.
“Both of them are really good kids, that’s the first thing,” said head coach Tim Beck. “They’re super nice kids and Isaac will be a nice addition to our team.”
Winning championships is nothing new to Izzy and Isaac. Izzy helped the Gorillas to a national championship in 2011, where he made 14 tackles. He can show off his national championship ring to Isaac, but the younger Maselera can always say he’s played at the Division I level.
Upon arriving at OSU in Stillwater, Okla., Isaac saw playing time in every game as a freshman in a historic 2011 campaign for the Cowboys that featured the first conference championship since 1976 as well as an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl.
Isaac recorded three tackles that season and says he had the privilege of going up against Heisman Trophy runner-up and eventual NFL first-round draft pick Andrew Luck of Stanford University.
“It was fun; getting to play in the Fiesta Bowl was a big accomplishment,” Isaac said. “Also, getting to beat OU since they’re our rivals.”
Isaac’s 2012 season once again featured only three tackles in fewer games. But problems unrelated to football are what made him leave and join Izzy in Pittsburg.
“I got into off-the-field issues,” Isaac said. “I thought I’d just come here since my brother will keep me out of trouble.”
The Right Move
So far, Isaac has been looking promising for the Gorillas this off-season, as the coaches say he’s been developing well but still has more to give.
“There’s a time period where you have to get comfortable, and he’s (Isaac) not there yet, but he’s getting there,” Beck said.
Isaac and Izzy had near identical performances in the Spring Game. Izzy finished the day with two tackles.
Isaac ended up getting three tackles, with two of them unassisted. That’s about the best he’s performed in a single game. He seems to be transitioning well at PSU.
“Like a lot of people that come from different programs, it’s like learning a whole new language,” said Dave Weimers, defensive coordinator. “There may be things that we coach different than they did (at OSU) but for the most part, he’s doing a really great job of picking up on the system.”
Isaac ultimately got the bragging rights over Izzy as White won 19-7.
The celebrations from the White team quickly died down as the players from both sides joined at midfield, all of them exchanging high-fives and congratulations, with the Maselera brothers doing the same.
One advantage to being on the same team is that the two brothers can help keep each other out of trouble. Also, having two players from the same mother can also help when it comes to team chemistry.
“We ask them a lot about that,” Weimers said. “We want that to be a major part of our team. We want them to be brothers and in this case they really are. You can’t beat family.”
Moving Forward, Together
Izzy might graduate this December while Isaac still has two more years, but the two are already making blueprints on the future.
They plan to live close to each other in the Lone Star state after graduation. The two hope to one day be football coaches and to add a new chapter to their sibling rivalry.
“We’ve already talked about moving to Dallas,” Izzy said. “We want to coach together in high school.”
Why Dallas? Tulsa may be their hometown, but Dallas is where they were born.
As the spectators leave the stadium, the football players soon left the field and headed over to the Weede Athletic Complex.
“I think that day, they were on separate teams, so they were going to be rivals, but it’s more of a working relationship,” Weimers said. “They’re out there standing next to each other so they’ve got to work together just like the rest of the players.”
Opposing offenses will have to watch out this season for Pitt State’s defense, especially those Maselera brothers as they look to anchor the Gorilla D.
“Izzy’s a fantastic person, a good kid, a good man,” Weimers said. “Because of that, we feel like we’re getting the same thing from Isaac.”