Twice As Nice: Mathis Twins Elevating Florence Football

They seem to know each other’s every move.

Since child birth one was the Yin to his twin sibling’s Yang.

Meet the Mathis brothers: seniors Shelton and Shane have become the backbone of the 6-1 Florence Gophers.

On the field, Shelton is the bigger, hard-hitting linebacker who leads FHS in tackles (72) and is second in both tackles-for-loss (seven) and sacks (five). Shane is the smaller, quicker route-running wide receiver who patterns his game after Carolina Panthers’ rookie Christian McCaffrey. He paces the Gophers in catches (24), yards (538) and is tied for the team lead with four receiving touchdowns.

Off the field, the gamesmanship juices run as hot as ever trying to “one-up” the other in anything considered competition.

“There are days when they’re super supportive of each other,” head coach Scott Howard said to flashing a wide smile before pausing. “Just yesterday they were super competitive against each other. They were talking trash. You just see the drive to outdo one another.”

If anyone knows it’s Howard, a father of twin boys himself.

Although Shane is considered the more vocal of the two, it’s evident Shelton has no problem being the leader, as evidenced from the precedent he set at Florence in the off-season.

“After we would have our weight session,” Shelton explained to “I would take a couple guys out [to the field]. I’d work with them on footwork. Anything to get my team better. I don’t like to focus on myself. I would take my brother out…some other kids who just want to be the best they can be.”

Shane feels the same-type of pride representing not just the Gopher program, who went 10-3 last year, but the entire town of Florence. The rustic community off the I-10 sits 61 miles southeast of the Valley and is known best by most for its collection of prisons in the Pinal County area.

“Obviously I play with a bigger chip on my shoulder,” he said to “It’s small school football. It’s the best kind of football it can be.”

Away from the gridiron the multi-sport twins like to keep one another in check, while still being each other’s biggest fan in athletics and, more importantly, in life.

“It’s just a different feeling,” Shane contemplated when asked what it’s like to be a twin. “It’s hard to explain.”

When in doubt, turn to your carbon copy.

“It’s like having a best friend live with you,” Shelton said without hesitation.

Now that’s taking the term “brotherly love” to a whole new level.