Harriton football program has become a true brotherhood

From the time the Stewart and Thomas families began tossing the football around in Narberth Park as toddlers, to playing under the lights on Friday nights representing Harriton High School, the journey has been worthwhile.

“We all went through St. Margaret’s growing up,” said Michael Stewart, in a recent interview prior to the Marple Newtown game. “I had a chance to play with my twin brother Brian along with good friends Harry and Jack Thomas and I looked forward to having the chance to play with my older brother along with my friends.”

Michael’s twin brother Brian added, “Not everyone gets a chance to play with their brothers and best friends. It’s pretty special.”

Harry Thomas, along with Brian and Michael Stewart, become the latest and final members of the family who have a chance to share the experience of a lifetime playing with their older siblings at the high school level.

Their coach, Harriton head coach Justin Mellor, had a similar opportunity during his freshman year of high school when he had a chance to play on the same team with his older brothers, Josh and Jason, who were a senior and junior, respectively.

“When I was a freshman in high school, I had a brother who was a senior and another brother who was a junior so I can relate to their situation,” said Mellor. “During baseball we played in a line up the middle of the field – Josh was in center field, Jason was normally the pitcher and I was the catcher. I always thought that was pretty neat to have that opportunity. My older brothers always pushed me harder and expected more out of me than other players my age, but I always knew that they had my back and my best interest at heart. The Stewarts and Thomas’ are very much the same.”

“Having the opportunity to play with my brothers is an experience that words can not describe,’ said Will Thomas. “I have played every other year of my sports career with my middle brother jack, but this is the first time that I have ever played with my youngest brother Harry. We always play backyard football with each other, but being able to play with them in a real game and have them both play defense with me is unreal.”

“It’s really special,” Patrick Stewart, who had a chance to play with older brother David. “To see them (Brian and Michael) out there is surreal. The Central League is really competitive so to go from the backyard to Friday Night Lights is a crazy feeling.”

Brian added, “It’s very special. We play every summer down at the beach and now to have that catch under the lights on Fridays is a crazy feeling.”

The Stewart’s began playing tackle football at a young age thanks in large part to their grandfather Charles Friel, who was inducted into the Lower Merion High School Football Hall of Fame last fall. With his encouragement and guidance the Stewart brothers are on a path of making a name for themselves.

“Grandfather signed me up for the for the nearest youth tackle football association,” said Patrick, who set a single-season Central League passing record last season throwing for 2,754 yards. “Since I started I love playing and continue to love playing today.”

Although the season has not started the way Mellor, his coaching staff and the players would have hoped the optimism still remains high due to the leadership of the team displayed by the senior class lead by Patrick Stewart along with junior Will Thomas.

Mellor said, “The best part about coaching at Harriton is the quality of young man that we get to work with every day. The Stewart and Thomas boys are prime examples of this – well-rounded, polite, intelligent young men who are just a pleasure to be around everyday. They truly are scholar athletes that their families, coaches, and school can be proud of. They are great examples for each other and for the other members of the team.”

“I have been taught it’s a long journey and you have to lead the younger players,” said Patrick Stewart. “They look up to you so I do my best to stay positive and guide them. All you can ask for is 100 percent effort and hopefully the result will show on the scoreboard.”

Thomas added, “We play as a family my brothers and I during the games and then looking over and seeing the Stewart brothers makes us even more of a family. Having Pat as the captain of the team just seals the deal, because he is the leader of the team and also our family. Next year with be as great as this year but we will not have Pat, which will be upsetting, but we are a family and right now we are going to enjoy every single minute we have with them and turn this season around ad end up having a successful year. I love my brothers and I love my team.”



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