March 19, 2012

Army football equals a “Band of Brothers” - Part II

It was only a little more than three months ago that Evan Finnane felt so comfortable with Air Force as his college destination, the defensive tackle from St. Elgin (Ill.) St. Edward said he was ready to commit to the Falcons.
Even his father, Jim, was so convinced Evan was ready to pick Air Force he purchased an Air Force sweatshirt to go with his Army sweatshirt for his older son playing at West Point, Shane Finnane.
But in one of those now-it-can-be-told stories, Army was never out of the picture for the simple reason Evan's older brother was already a Black Knight.
"If my brother wasn't at Army, we wouldn't be talking right now," Evan told "He was a big influence on my decision, but he didn't push me. He wanted me to make my own decision."
Evan explains that when he started re-considering Army, he didn't have questions to ask Army's coaching staff. Shane was in his second year at West Point and Evan understood most of what he wanted to know directly from his brother or through his father's conversations with Shane.
"I knew he liked West Point and toward the end I thought Army would be a better choice," Evan said. "I want to do paratrooping in the Army. There wasn't anything wrong with Air Force. Air Force was great. I just changed my mind when I really thought about it some more."
In landing a commitment from Evan Finanne, a 6-2, 260-pounder, Army's coaches feel they have a defensive linemen who could work his way onto the depth chart as a freshman. Shane is smaller (5-11, 233), he wasn't as highly touted as Evan as a recruit he and hasn't played his first two seasons. But Evan still looks up to his little big brother and hopes to line up with him in the future.
"I'm looking to get some playing time, and he's been working hard to get some playing time," Evan said. "I hope he gets some playing time more than me. He deserves it. He's worked hard."
Shane and Evan have a bond similar to other brother combinations bound for at West Point. In addition to the Finnane brothers, Class of 2012 defensive lineman Lance Baggett is following his brother Terrance, a sophomore running back, and safety Joey Giovanelli is following his brother Tony, a sophomore running back.
Another brother combination involves the McPhersons of Arlington (Wash.) High.
Blake McPerson, a quarterback, is following his brother Brad McPherson to West Point, although Brad doesn't play football.
Shane and Evan Finnane pretty much grew up playing sports and working out together. That includes taekwondo, with both earning third-degree black belts.
They also were three-sports athletes at St. Edward in football, wrestling as heavyweights and track and field as throwers.
One of Evan's fondest memories from his high school football career was the 2009 regular-season finale when he lined up as a sophomore nose tackle with Shane behind him as a senior middle linebacker.
"Our whole scheme that game was for Shane to blitz one way and I would shoot the other gap," Evan said. "I would turn to him and he'd tell me if he was going left or right. We had it down every single play. There was great chemistry."
In the wrestling room, Evan said he was taking a beating as Shane's sparring partner -- "He had the techniques on me and beat me up pretty good, but I think I could give him a run for the money now," Evan said -- until the end of the season when Shane injured his elbow.
Evan, noting Shane enjoyed throwing in track and field more than wrestling and Evan prefers wrestling to track, says he believes Shane used the elbow injury as a convenient reason to start preparing for track season and hand the heavyweight role over to him.
Evan responded by winning his Illinois regional title and advancing to sectional and state competition as a sophomore and junior. His senior year he lost in the regionals to one of the state's top heavyweights, Iowa-bound Mitch Keppy, a 3-star offensive lineman from Port Byron (Ill.) Riverdale.
"Since we were little, my brother and I have been always doing something together," Evan said. "We went to camps together. We got to practice together and teach each other. In high school, we always lifted weights together. I imagine it will be the same way at West Point."

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