POCATELLO, Idaho — It's often said that football is a brotherhood.

Tucker and Jerry Louie-McGee take that literally.

Tucker, a junior safety for Idaho State, and Jerry, a sophomore wide receiver for Montana, are brothers who've played football together — or against each other — since they were 5 and 6 years old.

Saturday's clash with the Bengals marked the second annual Louie-McGee brother bowl. Jerry's Montana came out on top, 39-31, to take home the win for the second year in a row. 

"We were always playing with each other, since I was 6 years old," Jerry said. "It's pretty different to be able to play against him. We came out with the W and it looks like I got bragging rights throughout the rest of my life."

But for Tucker and Jerry's parents, it doesn't matter what team scores more points.

"No matter what, I win," their mom Debbie Louie-McGee said smiling. "Win or lose, I still win."

Wade McGee, their dad, shared Debbie's sentiment.

"I win and lose, but it's a win-win because they're both out there playing," Wade said.

This game was different than the 2016 matchup, though. 

Tucker was on offense and special teams last season, but moved to safety for his junior year. That meant he was in position to potentially cover his younger brother.

"I think a couple times I was bracketed on him," Tucker said. "I didn't really have any man opportunities, but yeah, I was on him a couple times in some coverage.

"I wanted to go up against him more. He's a really good receiver and I wanted to challenge myself. I wish I would have went up against him more in man coverage."

This was the first time the brothers had lined up against one another outside of high school practice. 

Wade would know — he coached them from elementary school through high school.

"In high school, when Jerry was a sophomore and Tucker was a junior, Tucker was a safety and Jerry was a slot (receiver) and a running back," Wade said. "In practice, they'd play against one another, but never like this where there's so much on the line in the Big Sky Conference."

***

Watching their sons succeed almost brings tears to both Debbie and Wade's eyes, especially knowing where they come from.

The Louie-McGee brothers grew up on the Coeur d'Alene reservation in north Idaho, in Worley, a small town of roughly 250 people. 

Debbie and Wade moved their family off the reservation and into Coeur d'Alene before Jerry's freshman year of high school in 2010 to give more options to their sons. Lakeside High School in Plummer, Idaho — the school the Louie-McGees attended — didn't have all the academic courses necessary for NCAA eligibility.

"I could tell right away they could play, as a coach, because I've played at the next level," Wade said of his sons' talent. "I could tell they were talented. As they got older, that's when we made the decision to move them off the reservation to a bigger school because we knew it was the only way they were going to get the opportunity.

"They don't forget where they came from. They don't forget the work that they've put in. They don't forget their people, their culture and their identity. That's important. That makes them play even harder, just to have that background and to be at this level and to be role models for other kids in Indian Country, that's humongous."

Tucker and Jerry both had standout high school careers at Lake City High School. 

Tucker was the starting quarterback and threw for more than 1,100 yards and nine touchdowns with at least seven more rushing touchdowns his senior season before heading to Idaho State to play at the next level. 

Jerry earned all-state and conference MVP honors his senior year after rushing for 757 yards with seven touchdowns and having 1,104 receiving yards with 10 receiving touchdowns. He walked on at Montana and the rest has been history.

"As a dad and a coach, this is their dream," Wade said. "Their hard work. Their dedication. Their discipline. Their work in the classroom. Their work in the offseason. Sacrificing social time to put in the work to be at this level and hopefully someday the next level.

"But the worst possible outcome is a degree. And how many of our people get degrees? It's getting better, but they're gonna be successful Native men, no matter what happens from here on out. What can you say? It makes me want to cry."

***

The "Brother Bowl," as Wade called it, brings dozens of friends and family members together so they can watch both Tucker and Jerry play at the same time. 

Most of those Team Louie-McGee fans wore white or gray shirts with both the Bengal and Grizzly logo on them with "A House Divided" written on the front. No. 16 for Jerry and No. 17 for Tucker were on the back in their respective school colors. 

Jeanie Louie, Debbie's mom, had the shirts made for the game.

The shirts meant a lot to the brothers, as Jerry said they "were actually pretty sick," but what meant more was everyone coming together

People came all the way from San Diego, Coeur d'Alene, Polson, Wenatchee, Washington, among other places to watch the two play.

"It means a lot," Tucker said. "Just being role models to younger kids from our tribe and other tribes means a lot to us. It means a lot for us and our family and everything to be here. Family is everything to us, we love them with all of our hearts. It means everything to us, at least to me."

Jerry added: "It makes me feel so good that I have my family and friends and that I have such a big support system. I couldn't be doing this and I wouldn't be where I'm at without my parents and my family to be there to help me out. I couldn't be more blessed and thankful for this whole day."

The meaning wasn't lost on Debbie either. 

"It's nothing but honor," she said. "It's humbling because we are Native American. We get a lot of support from tribes all over. It's so hard for Native Americans to even get to this level. And football, it's tough."

***

But Saturday's game was the last matchup for the brothers. Montana and Idaho State don't play each other in 2018 for Tucker's senior season. 

Several members of the Louie-McGee family only realized it this week that Saturday's game would be the last one like this. 

Wade said Tucker told him about the schedule change. Debbie said Jerry told her on Friday.

"It's kinda sad actually," Wade said, surrounded by at least a dozen family members and friends. "I was hoping for another one."

And with that, the "House Divided" shirts and the two-tone hats will only serve as a reminder of the two "Brother Bowl" games. 

"It's very disappointing," Tucker said. "Everyone comes together to see our games and I always love seeing all the family, all of our friends come together when we play. It does hurt my heart a little, but I'll get over it. I know we'll be brothers no matter what. We'll love each other and support each other no matter what.

"I would love another chance at the Griz, losing to them two years in a row, but it's just not in the cards. I guess we'll just have to live with that."

Amie Just covers Griz football for the Missoulian, among other things. Follow her on Twitter @Amie_Just or email her at Amie.Just@406mtsports.com.

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