Posted On: 07/1/18 5:21 AM

Competition is the essence of sports.

Athletes compete against other competitors or teams for victories. Teammates compete against each other for starting jobs and playing time. In the case of Lakeville North’s Eli and Will Mostaert, the brothers not only compete on the football field – they compete in virtually everything they do.

As juniors – the twins both started for the Panthers’ defense. Will primarily at defensive tackle and Eli at linebacker and defensive end. Opening night last September was a special night for the brothers.

“We had a lot of emotions going into that game,” Will said. “We were hyped to get out there together. For no real reason, we wanted to compete for stats and stuff. We pumped each other up to get ready to go.”

“It was fun,” Eli said. “Will played (varsity) sophomore year, and I didn’t. That was the first time we hadn’t played with each other. When we first played on varsity together whenever one of us would make a tackle we were pretty hyped. It was a fun opportunity.”

They have played together since youth football.

“We were always going to play football,” Will – who is ranked 22nd in the Class of 2019 – said. “Our dad was our coach growing up.”

Although they are twins and ended up playing similar positions, it wasn’t always that way.

“I was bigger when I was little, and he was always one pound below the weight limit,” Will explained. “He played running back and quarterback a lot of the time, and I played offensive and defensive line. Around eighth grade, we started playing the same positions, but we would usually play opposite defensive ends.”

Over the years they have developed different strengths.

“We have the same body type,” Will explained. “I am a little quicker than him. He is a little stronger than me.”

Since they first strapped on the pads, the brothers have tried to one-up each other.

“It has been fun,” Eli told “We are always competing against each other to see who can get better at our specific positions and who is going to be the better player overall. We push each other the best we can. When we were younger, we always went against each other.”

The competitive nature of the brothers is evident on the field, but it extends past game time.

“Whenever one of us doesn’t give full effort we try to encourage them,” Eli said. “If somebody gets pancaked or something we always try to get the other to the next play. We always push each other to do our best in the weight room and on the practice field.”

“If one of us is benching, the other always wants to one-up them,” Will continued. “We are always pushing each other to do better and better. If one of us is slacking, we get on the other guy. If one of us is talking too much, the other will tell him to ‘get back to work.’ Sometimes we get into arguments when one of us thinks the other isn’t working hard.”

Although usually productive, the Mostaert arguments can get borderline out of hand.

“Sometimes we get a little pissed at each other,” Eli – ranked 26th – admitted. “We argue a lot during football. If one of us does something wrong, we get into arguments that need to be broken up sometimes, but we always work it out.”

Although they don’t always agree, the brothers – who also spend some time at tight end or fullback on offense – off the field connection has obvious benefits on the field.

“It helps on the field,” Will said. “We know how each other thinks. We know what each other is going to do sometimes. That helps us play off each other.”

Like any set of siblings, it doesn’t matter what the event is, the brothers tend to turn it into a competition.

“It doesn’t matter, video games, lawn games, anything we can compete at we will,” Will said. “We even bet on the ACT.”

I didn’t dare ask who won the ACT bet, but they both did well enough on the test to open many college football opportunities. As of now, they hold identical offers: Northern Iowa, South Dakota State, South Dakota, Western Illinois, Mankato and Air Force. Will recently added offers from Dartmouth and North Dakota State who Will recently committed to.

They expect at some point one of them will get an offer or offers the other will not. At this point, the brothers are not focused on whether they want to stay together past high school.

“We haven’t talked about it,” Eli said. “It would be fine either way.”

The Mostaerts have been more than fine for the Panthers. Their competitiveness has not only improved each other, but it has also improved the Panthers’ football program, and will someday improve at least one college program’s football team.

Note: Shortly after this story was published, Will announced his verbal commitment to North Dakota State.