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Four sets of brothers have turned Lawrence football into family affair

From bottom left, brothers Melik and Akil Mavruk,

From bottom left, brothers Melik and Akil Mavruk, Joe and Florian Capobianco, Jordan and Tyler Fredericks, and Elijah and Simon Jones pose for a portrait at Lawrence High School. (Sept. 19, 2012) Credit: Barry Sloan

They come from different corners of the Lawrence school district, bringing with them diverse backgrounds and beliefs.

Yet brotherhood is a keyword for the 37 members of the Lawrence football team, one that can be taken quite literally. Not only are the players brothers-in-arms, but the Golden Tornadoes feature four sets of brothers.

Meet the Fredericks: Tyler and Jordan.

The Joneses: Elijah and Simon.

The Mavruks: Akil and Melik.

The Capobiancos: Florian and Joe.

"When we talk about our team being family, we aren't kidding," said Tyler Fredericks, a senior halfback. "This is all family everywhere you look. We are together on and off the field, whether we like it or not. And it's not always easy. There's an added pressure, an added expectation to succeed."

Fredericks' sentiments are echoed throughout the Lawrence practice. "The games, the practices, the films, they don't just end when you go home," junior quarterback Joe Capobianco said. "It continues at dinner. It continues in the house, in front of the house, in the street, everywhere. It consumes everything we do in our lives."

Of course it does.

Capobianco's older brother Florian is the starting guard for one of Long Island's most prolific offenses. At 5-9, 205 pounds, the senior is the protector of little brother Joey, who has developed into one of Long Island's elite quarterbacks.


Togetherness"It's exciting to play together and he's become a star quarterback," Florian said. "It's harder when you're blocking for your brother. There's a different kind of pressure. But he knows whether we're on or off the field, I always have his back."

Florian, who is returning from ACL surgery, watched Lawrence win the Nassau III title before falling to Sayville in an epic Long Island Class III championship game last year. He saw his brother throw for a record seven touchdowns in the title game.

"I was so miserable and so proud all at once because I wanted to be a part of it," he said.Joann Capobianco, their mother, says it's not always easy when the boys get home to Inwood from a day on the field.

"They were always competitive with each other," she said. "Florian always had his little brother on the team and Joey was always in the spotlight. Florian resented it when they were younger, but as they got older, he realized they were playing together for one goal."

It was no different in the Fredericks household, where mom and dad Atasha and Robin dealt with their six boys under one roof. Perhaps the watershed moment for these proud parents was when three of their boys, Ryan, Tyler and Jordan, played together last season.

"It was amazing seeing the three of them on varsity at the same time," Atasha Fredericks said. "When they were younger, they played on different teams and we'd have to tape all the games and watch them after dinner."

Atasha laughs at the memories that come with a full house that included Calvin, now 26; Justin, 22, who recently graduated from the Hartford Police Academy; Ryan 19; Tyler, 18; Jordan, 16, and Christian, 11.

"They are competitive in everything," she said. "It's always about who is better, who missed a block, who scored, whatever, it goes back and forth. And guess what: I'm the best referee, because it's non-stop."


Community spirit

It is common for Atasha to return from work and find the courtyard in front of her Inwood home crowded with 20 to 25 neighborhood boys running the challenging agility course.

"It's a community workout for everyone," she said. "If they're not running on the beach or on the boardwalk, they're setting up the cones in front of my home."

And to think football was a no-go when the Fredericks boys were younger. Forget the fantastic foot speed of the 5-11, 190-pound Jordan, a sophomore wide receiver, and the power of the 6-1, 215-pound Tyler, a senior halfback. Football was considered too dangerous.

"I was against them playing," Atasha said. But Atasha gave up. Justin played junior-high football and the other boys followed suit.

"I've been cheering ever since," she said. "Football has been great for my boys."

Donna Jones of Woodmere agrees about the football experience at Lawrence, which is off to a 4-0 start this season.

"It's a big part of our family," she said. "The boys love Lawrence football. They're not out on the streets and hanging out with the gangs. My boys are coming home and doing homework and throwing the football around. It is their life."

The Jones brothers are a wrecking crew of linebackers. Elijah, a 6-1, 210-pound junior, and Simon, a 6-foot, 235-pound sophomore, are affectionately known as the JBOMD -- Jones Brothers Of Mass Destruction.

"They are scary people, real hard-nosed tough guys," Lawrence coach Joe Martillotti said.

Donna Jones says the discipline of football and the life lessons have been critical for her boys' progression in school.

"They're doing great academically," she said.


The tanks

Sophomore Melik Mavruk, a 6-1, 240-pound defensive tackle, says he looks up to his brother Akil and is honored to play alongside him on the defense.

"We played last year together and it was great," Akil said. "Now we want to win the Long Island championship."

The Mavruks, known for bone-crushing open-field hits on special teams and defense, have been dubbed the "Turkish Tanks" for their muscular physiques. "These guys work out all the time," Martillotti said. "They are physical specimens."

That commitment could be traced to their father, Mahmut, who said he developed a reputation as a disciplinarian in the Turkish Army.

Mahmut and his wife, Ela, who live in Cedarhurst, don't pretend to have much expertise about the sport their sons love.

"I know nothing about football," said Mahmut, who said he settled in the United States from Turkey 19 years ago and opened an art gallery in Harlem. "I just stand there and watch and I can sense their happiness and something good is going on when I hear the crowd. The coaches have been extremely helpful and send the right message. They treat all the kids like their own children."

It is why Lawrence is about family. Mahmut Mavruk laughed at the size and strength of his boys.

"It's in the genes," he said. "I have a brother who is 6-foot-4 and an uncle who sits on his horse and his feet touch the ground. We're big people."

Mahmut likes to tell the story about his 81-year-old mother, Sebiha, whom he credits with instilling Turkish traditional family values in his boys and being a great influence.

"She was watching the football game on TV, and every time the announcers mentioned one of their names, she called me," he said. "Thank goodness for unlimited minutes."

"We have a unique situation," Martillotti said. "We have great chemistry and a closeness that's hard to beat. They're all brothers here."

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