To be successful, the Columbia County Gators had to become a family over the course of the football season.
Relating to each other is something the Smith brothers have been doing for years.
Blake, Austin, and Colby were three of 13 players on a Gators roster that went 10-3 and won the 2001 Flag Football Championship.
To make better use of the boys' closeness, and their natural speed, offensive coordinator Graig Plunkett said he put them together in the backfield where he knew they would best help the team.
"They are very fast," Plunkett said. "If they were suppose to go to the right, they went to right and ran until somebody got them."
Cheryl Smith, the boys' mother, said playing on the same team taught the boys, all 8 years old, a lot about life and their relationship. She homeschools them and their quadruplet sister Audrey.
One life lesson came when Blake, the quarterback, ran for a 50-yard touchdown that was called back because Colby was offsides. Earlier in the game, Colby scored a touchdown of his own but couldn't enjoy it, knowing Blake's got called back.
"Working through that as a family, we had to use that as a teaching tool," Smith said. "What is more important - your brother's feelings or winning the football game?"
Smith said her sons also developed as individuals. One example she gave was Blake, whom she feels has natural leadership skills. Though he was named quarterback because of his speed, Smith said it was a perfect position for him for other reasons.
"They are looking at each other for a leader," she said. "He is a very intense person and very competitive."
The boys aren't stars on the offensive side only. All thee played defense. In fact, Austin had five interception during the season - all three had at least one.
Competitiveness aside, Smith said her boys loved playing with each other and the other Gators and look forward to including their sister in other sports. The foursome plans to play soccer when the season starts. To make sure Audrey is ready, they have been practicing.
"They have to work together," she said. "We hope that they take that from the field into real life."
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