Cosmos and Eloi Kwete quickly established themselves as two playmakers on the Central defensive line last year. The Kwete brothers, as sophomores, led the Bobcats in tackles in their first season of football.
But that doesn’t mean they didn’t grow up tackling opponents.
The Kwetes, who are originally from the Congo, came to Central High School as a part of a refugee program from Zimbabwe, where the two brothers were a part of the country’s 17-and-under national rugby team.
When they made it to Arizona, they were interested in joining the soccer team at Central or a club rugby team, which would start up in the winter.
Head football coach Jon Clanton, who was a collegiate standout at Nebraska, met them at school registration entering the 2016 school year and convinced them that football would help keep them busy in the fall.
“You could tell they had skill levels,” Clanton said. “They ran to the ball, they chased the ball carrier, they tackled very well, so the skills that you can’t coach were all there. Then we had to teach them the football aspects: how to get in a stance, plays, here’s what we do in certain defenses, here’s what you do in this aspect of it. Originally, they only played defense at first, it’s a little easier to do than offense. This year, they both play offense and defense. As of right now, they’re almost unblockable.”
Clanton feels Central, a school that sees consistent transfers in from other states and countries, is a community that helps ease the transition to American life.
“Here at Central, there are so many different nationalities,” Clanton said. “Every kid is welcome here, so every kid in our football program tends to have a lot of friends right off the bat. Socializing, especially learning your English and learning customs and stuff, (they’re) learning from the rest of the guys on the team. We have good kids here, and (Eloi and Cosmos) were welcomed right away.”
The Kwete brothers led the Bobcats in tackles last year as sophomores and are already constant residents in opponents’ backfields in 2017.
“There was not a big difference between football and rugby,” Cosmos said. “In both sports, you have to be rough, you have to be manly.”
They aren’t just getting it done on the field but in the classroom as well. Clanton said the Kwete brothers’ father has had multiple conversations with him discussing the academic standard for his boys and the expectation of A’s and B’s, which both Cosmos and Eloi are earning.
And it is only the beginning.
“They’re only juniors,” Clanton said. “Next year, obviously they’re having a good season this year. I think next year, it’s going to be really special. I’m interested to see what colleges take a chance on them. Obviously, they’re from out of the country and still new to football. I’m excited about it. I’m excited to coach them.”
The Kwete brothers and the rest of the Central Bobcats take on Alhambra on September 29th.