West Xtra: Twins are double trouble for Moon opponents

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There's usually a special bond between a quarterback and his center.

But the connection Moon Area's starting signal-caller has with the anchor of his offensive line goes well beyond a typical teammate relationship.

This companionship actually goes back to birth.

Quarterback Aleksei Yaramus takes snaps behind and is protected by his twin brother, Niko. The pair are both seniors and starters for the Tigers.

"We've had that bond since we began playing together when we were little," said Aleksei, who is one minute younger than his fraternal-twin brother. "There's no one else I'd rather have blocking for me.

"He's always been there to pat me on the back, tell me what we're doing right and what we need to do to play better. It's a great thing we have together."

His brother quickly agreed.

"Since we were little, we've always had that bond on the field," Niko said. "It's very comfortable and natural for me to protect him. It's a great feeling to play with and be there for your brother."

Although they're twins, their physical attributes differ.

Aleksei is 6 feet 2 and 210 pounds. Niko, on the other hand, is listed at 6-3 and 285 pounds.

"Aleksei brings a lot of leadership and a lot of experience to the field," Moon coach Mark Washington said. "He has a great work ethic and he's the engine of our team. He gets everyone lined up and doing the right things. He's a hard worker.

"Niko is our leader on the line. He gives everything he has play after play. A lot of kids feed off him with the way he comes off the ball. He's our team captain and a really good football player."

Niko, who also starts at nose guard on defense, is being recruited by a variety of Division I football programs.

"He has grown with his technique and being smart on both sides of the ball," Washington said. "He's all about his team and not about himself or any scholarship offers."

Niko confirmed that both he and his brother will decide their future after this season.

"We're just trying to focus on our senior year and make the most out of this great experience playing together in high school," Niko said. "Playing together in college would be awesome and would especially make it easier on our parents, but right now we're enjoying this moment we have together."

The brothers also are disciplined students. Each carries a 4.3 grade-point average.

"We hold academics to the highest standard and we were always raised to believe academics come first," Niko said. "Football is great and we love the competition, but at the end of the day we know academics will help us more later in life."

Their father, Sam, also played football and was Washington's teammate at Aliquippa in the late 1980s.

"It's a beautiful thing to be able to coach his kids," Washington said. "When we played together, Sammy was our right guard and I was the left guard. He's a childhood friend and helped me when I came to this program. He's the only person I knew when I came to Moon, so I have a lot of appreciation for him and his family."

Behind the Yaramus brothers, the Tigers are off to a 1-0 start in the Parkway Conference following a 20-6 victory against Blackhawk.

"We came into the game playing as fast as we could and played well," Aleksei said. "Our offensive line smashed the defenders back and gave me time to throw and gave our backs space to run. Our wide receivers are athletes and they got open, too.

"We played well as a unit and got off to a solid start."

Aleksei completed 9 of 18 pass attempts for 160 yards and a touchdown against the Cougars. He also ran for a score and piled up 99 rushing yards last week.

"It was a great start for us," Niko said. "We proved we can win and make the big plays. We just know at this point we have to continue to get better as a team."

The Tigers travel to Mt. Lebanon for a non-conference game at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow before jumping back into Parkway Conference action next week at home against Ambridge Area.

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