DENVER — Three identical lineman line up each Friday night for Mullen High School. The Maiava brothers moved to Denver from Fort Collins this past year, and are already finding their footing in the trenches.
As much as these brothers share a resemblance in appearance, they couldn't be further apart in personality.
Micah is the "oldest" of the three, by only minutes of course, but he is the leader of the pack. He speaks for the triplets and describes each of them proudly.
"Out of all three of us, he's probably the nicest person you'll ever meet," he says about his brother Matthew.
The gentle giant is the "middle" brother, and is also the center of the Mustangs team; it's only fitting.
As he went down the line, Micah landed on his other brother Michael, the most cerebral of the three.
"Michael likes to think within himself, but when he speaks up, you have to listen because it's important," Micah said.
He wasn't shy about his own description, understanding what people often say about a "leader."
"People like to say I'm mean," he laughed.
"I like to say he's just straight forward," Michael corrected. "So we just compensate for each other."
For being the mean one, Micah is still a bit too nice to his opponents in the trenches. In fact, the coaches wish the Maiava brothers could all find their inner animal on the line.
"I'm still trying to find my animal, but I guarantee once I find it, things will change," Matthew said.
Things are already changing for the brothers outside of the lines. Moving to a new city this past year brought them even closer to their family, and they wanted to symbolize that. Each brother got a half sleeve tattoo on his right arm, representing brotherhood, friends, family, and health in their native culture.
"The whole reason why we got it is because it's like a maturing into manhood," Micah said. "It's like that rightful passage from kids to now men and it's kind of like a part of our culture."
Each tattoo, much like the boys, looks identical to the naked eye. However, the artist shaded them differently based on each of their personalities.
"I'm more of the focused, aggressive type, so he shaded mine all in," Micah said. "Plus I'm the older one, so that helped it a little bit."
Micah never lets a moment slip by without reminding them he's their elder, but no matter who holds the highest rank, they can always lean on each other when they need it most.
"We've gone through a lot together and they've always been supportive of what we've gone through and what I've made as a decision," Michael said. "They've just been awesome my entire life and I can't ask for better brothers."