By Stephanie Brenneisen
Photos by Clark Larson
When siblings play a sport together, a rivalry may develop, but such is not the case for the Leota-Hunkin brothers of Alta High football.
The three brothers continuously support each other on and off the football field, where senior Traivaugn starts at safety, junior Davian at defensive end and sophomore Dante Kalil at defensive tackle. The brothers came to Alta in 2014. The two older siblings first played football at Riverton High, but moved into the Sandy area.
“Alta gave us a chance,” Dante Kalil said.
The three boys grew up playing football with their family, just for fun. They decided to play in a competitive league in Davian’s age group when they were nearing the end of elementary school.
“I started pretty late,” Traivaugn said. “You could say I was scared.”
Traivaugn started playing football at age 12, but he and his brother had the help and support from each other and their father to learn and progress despite his late entrance into the sport.
“Everything we know is from our dad,” Davian said.
The Leota-Hunkin brothers’ biggest football influence has been their father, who played quarterback at the University of Michigan. Each has hopes of playing college football, however there are no current offers for the boys.
Coach Te’o sees similarities between these three young men, but he also takes note of the individual characteristics that make each brother special
Traivaugn is a 5-foot-10, 185-pound defensive back who finished the 2015 season with 114 tackles and two interceptions, including a 59-yard pick-6 against Orem.
“He’s a real quiet player, but speaks loud with his shoulder pads,” Te’o said. “Trai is very business-like and soft spoken, but he gets it done.”
Te’o said that all three of the brothers are major contributors on the team and without them, the team is weaker. Unfortunately, the team was without Davian for a few games this season because of an ACL tear, but no surgery was required.
Davian, who is a 6-2, 210-pound defensive end, had 30 tackles and 5.5 sacks while playing in just seven of the Hawks’ 11 contests.
“Davian is a workhorse,” Te’o said. “He plays with a lot of emotion. There’s no quit in him.”
According to Coach Te’o, the injury slowed Davian down and the junior tweaked it again later in the year during a big game at Provo High School.
His brothers sensed something was missing while he was away from the game.
“We’re not complete without him,” Dante Kalil said.
The brothers are very family oriented and don’t compete with each other except in the weight room when they try to motivate one another. Since they all play defense together, they think of the game as them versus everybody else, however Dante Kalil also plays on the offensive line.
At 6-foot, 210 pounds, Dante Kalil finished the year with 55 tackles. His season high came in a game against Spanish Fork when he recorded 14 and he had nine in Alta’s final game of the season, playoff game against East.
“[Dante] Kalil is a high energy player for us,” Te’o said. “He goes 100 miles per hour.”
In order to get themselves recruited, the boys are working hard at putting their film together, especially the oldest, Traivaugn who averages 6.2 tackles per game and hopes to get an offer before leaving on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sometime after high school graduation.
As members of the LDS church, the lives of the Leota-Hunkins are very driven by their faith. Every Thursday before game day, the boys fast before going to the temple the next morning on game day before school and praying together right before the game starts.
“I commend them for doing that,” Te’o said. “Every kid has a different way to prepare mentally. It helps them become stronger players.”
Te’o has high expectations for the Leota-Hunkin brothers, who continue to be leaders on and off the field. Their play allows the brothers to make a statement and showcase their talent.