By GERRY STEELE
For six Baker High School wrestlers expressing a little brotherly love is more personal than for their teammates.
Three sets of brothers Micah and Paul Johnson, Quincy and Parker Warner, and Paul Slater and John Butler all wrestle for the Bulldogs. And, most of the brothers recently had stories to tell that were slightly more interesting than a standard high school match.
Wrestling's in Johnson's blood
"We've had some real doozies," said Paul Johnson, a sophomore, about growing up around wrestling and his brother, senior Micah Johnson
"We've always been similar in size and it's always been oh, I can take you.' Hopefully, he's developed some respect for me," Micah said.
"There's always been respect, but I want bragging rights and can't always get them," Paul said.
"Every now and then there's still a little physicality," Micah added. "I still push Paul so he can be a better wrestler than I am."
"He still chases me around the house and tries to tackle me," Paul said.
But, that doesn't happen as often as it did since Paul now wrestles at 189 pounds and Micah at 145.
Micah said he started wrestling just to have something to do.
"I get bored during the winter," he said. "I don't have the hand-eye coordination for basketball, or the breath for swimming.
"Wrestling has kind of been in the family ever since dad was coach."
Dave Johnson, BHS football coach, was the Bulldogs' wrestling coach for a few years earlier in his career.
"Wrestling challenges me," Paul said. "It gives me some kind of discipline, helps me for other sports."
Dave said wrestling has been good for all of his sons.
"It helps them learn how to put their best foot forward every day," he said. "We talk a lot. I'm proud of both Micah and Paul."
Wrestling is a big part of the Christmas break at the Johnson household, particularly with older brothers Caleb and Jared also home.
"It's a big part of our lives, a way of settling disputes without getting cheated," Micah said.
The Johnson brothers usually clear out the family room and take part in some group matches during the holidays.
"Wrestling is big time at our house during Christmas," Dave said.
And, during some of the past "matches" participants have come up the worse for wear.
"I put my hand through a window and broke my arm," Paul said of one experience. "And I hit my head on a chair and broke my head open."
"When he did that I quickly pulled him off the carpet to keep blood off the carpet," Micah said. "Then I called dad. But I knew mom wouldn't want blood on the carpet."
Mom Cathy said Micah and Paul aren't quite as rowdy as their older brothers used to be.
"When we lived in Pendleton they knew our older boys by name at the hospital," she said.
"Now the younger brothers are always challenging the older brothers. The young ers guys seem to be more aggressive," she said.
But, the boys learned early on not to challenge their mother.
"Every now and then they try moves on me," Cathy said. "But, I don't play fair. I will win at all costs."
A Warner tradition
The Warner brothers decided to wrestle in part to keep a family tradition going.
"I started in the seventh grade because dada wrestled in high school," said Quincy, a senior.
"I had tried it before in mat club and didn't really like it. But basketball wasn't really working out for me.
"Then, in high school, I did pretty decent as a freshman and started having more fun in high school."
Parker, a freshman, also started in the seventh grade.
"I started because Quincy did, and wrestling looked like fun," he said.
"I did alright in the seventh grade, then missed the eighth grade season because I was sick and hurt. Then, this year, I came here and liked it. It's more fun, and you learn more up here with people who know more stuff."
Any extra-curricular matches at home are tame, according to dad, Scott Warner.
"They're pretty controlled. Their mother would kill them if they broke anything," he said.
And the fact that Quincy wrestles in the middle weights and Parker at the lower weights doesn't lead to too many challenges.
"There's always been a big weight difference," Scott said. "Parker doesn't really start a lot of things because it's not inducive to good health."
"I did once and wished I'd never had," Parker said.
"We can still take dad," the brothers said, smiling.
"Don't even think about it," Scott retored, casually leaning back in his chair.
Scott's junior season at BHS, 1975, was the first year the Bulldogs fielded a mat team. The team was coached by Chuck Holliday and Vic Retherford.
"I was 115 pounds then," Scott said, sighing.
Slater and Butler
Paul Slater has wrestled for the Bulldogs for four years. This season he is listed at 171 pounds.
His adopted brother, John Butler, a freshman, is currently nursing an injury and not on the mats.
"I practice with him at home on the rug in front of the TV," Slater said.