Right now in Calhoun, Georgia, there is a bit of an identity crisis that produces wry smiles on the football field and creates utter chaos for opponents.
Quin Smith and Cole Speer often get confused for each other on and off the field — something the Calhoun High School seniors laugh about — but it's no laughing matter for opposing coaches, who would be just fine if they didn't have to deal with even one of them.
The two, who rarely come off the field, play the same positions: receiver on offense and cornerback on defense. They are both 6 feet tall and around 190 pounds, can run the 40-yard dash in less than 4.5 seconds and are more than willing to throw their bodies around.
Entering Friday's GHSA Class AAAAA semifinal against Blessed Trinity, a Region 7 rival Calhoun defeated by five points during the regular season, Smith and Speer will again figure prominently in Yellow Jackets coach Clay Stephenson's game plan in front of the home crowd at Phil Reeve Stadium.
"When we need a big play, No. 5 (Speer) or No. 9 (Smith) seem to make it," Stephenson said. "They've been that way their entire careers. They mean so much to our team, and they do it on both sides of the ball and on special teams. We give them 'Going The Extra Mile' and 'Heart' awards after every game, and they get it just about every week."
The stats speak for themselves. Speer, headed to the University of Georgia next year, has 43 catches for 1,043 yards, 14 touchdown receptions and three rushing scores. He also has 58 tackles, four interceptions and two forced fumbles, as well as kickoff and punt returns for touchdowns.
Smith, a future Air Force Falcon, has 31 catches for 641 yards and nine touchdowns, plus two rushing scores and a touchdown pass. He leads the secondary with 74 tackles and has several big hits to go with three interceptions.
They've played as many as 130 snaps in a game this year and regularly go over 100, but neither would have it any other way.
"I feel like it starts with the spring and summer," Smith said of the pair's ability to be iron men. "We've been preparing for games like this in playoff time since the end of last season, really. We've done constant weight training every day; we get after it away from the field as well."
While they aren't overly competitive with each other, they use their similarities and friendship to push one another. They understand the impact their similar skills can have on a game, and neither minds being compared to the other.
"We're a lot alike on the playing field," Speer said. "There's nothing that I can do that he can't do. It makes it real tough to have two great receivers on the field at the same time who are hard to cover. We can also run the ball and throw the ball.
"On and off the field, we just feel comfortable with each other."
Opposing defensive coordinators, however, are never comfortable. Led by quarterback Christian Smith — whose accuracy has allowed him to complete 70% of his passes this season — the Yellow Jackets' offense is full of screens and quick out routes designed to get their slew of playmakers out in space with the ball.
At the same time, though, any defense that starts to tighten the coverage up can get quickly burned by Calhoun's lethal weapons, Smith and Speer. Each has a touchdown this season of 90-plus yards, and each has produced highlight-worthy deciding plays in Calhoun's past two games.
On the road against favored Ware County in the second round of the playoffs, Smith took a reverse for a touchdown, outrunning several defenders to get to the edge and then laying out to get into the end zone. Last week at Clarke Central, Speer went up for a deep ball and snared it one-handed, shook off his defender, then took it the distance to help set up a lopsided quarterfinal victory.
"They do things like that all the time, and we are blessed to be able to coach them," Stephenson said. "I don't want to think about having to replace them and, thankfully, I don't have to yet."