When you play football alongside your identical twin brother, sometimes things get a little bizarre.
Opponents might do double-takes when they look inside your face mask. Maybe announcers will confuse you and your sibling, even though you’re wearing different numbers. Or perhaps an official will mistakenly penalize you for your brother’s infraction.
Each of those circumstances has popped up during the young varsity careers of John and Josh Emmanuel, who play linebacker and tight end at Parish Episcopal. But most games, those same opponents, announcers, and officials will remember the sophomores for a different reason.
“They’re two of the most athletic kids we have on the team,” said Parish head coach Daniel Novakov. “They can do a little bit of everything.”
Indeed, the Emmanuel twins have been game-changers since they both became varsity starters last season as freshmen. They showed enough promise that the Panthers switched to a 3-4 formation so both of them could play outside linebacker.
They embrace the inevitable comparisons. “We don’t ever go through a game without somebody asking if we’re twins,” John said. “If he has a good game and we win, then I’ll be as happy as if I had a good game.”
Off the field, the duo can usually be found together. In addition to sharing hobbies, they also play basketball at Parish and run on the same sprint relay team during track season.
“To the naked eye, it’s like having two of the same person,” Novakov said. “They’re always around each other, but we try to give them their own space.”
For all of the similarities, there are subtle differences, more than just their preference for pizza toppings. For example, while preparing for games, John is typically much more social with teammates, while Josh tends to isolate himself while listening to music.
“Just because we’re twins doesn’t mean we’re the same person,” Josh said. “I want people to notice me for me.”
Both twins tallied touchdowns during a preseason scrimmage against Shelton, on opposite sides of scrimmage. John caught an 80-yard touchdown pass, while Josh scored on an interception return.
Of course, being on the field with your brother has plenty of advantages, some of which simply involve the inherent connection between twins.
“We like to bring each other up. I can feed off his energy,” Josh said. “He’s really my best friend.”