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Staff file photo by Matt Hamilton / Calhoun senior quarterback Christian Lewis, pictured, and his twin brother Christopher, a linebacker, both played big roles in the Yellow Jackets' playoff victory last week at Ware County to reach Friday's GHSA Class AAAAA quarterfinal at Clarke Central, a matchup of 10-2 teams.

CALHOUN, Ga. — Like most twins, Christian and Christopher Lewis are alike in a lot of ways. It's the differences, though, that make the Calhoun High School football stars stand out.

The Yellow Jackets are set to face Clarke Central in a GHSA Class AAAAA quarterfinal Friday night in Athens, and if the past three-plus seasons are any indication, the Lewis brothers will play a key role in the matchup of 10-2 teams. It's what they do on a regular basis on the field, but it's the impact the pair of seniors have made off it that has made them legends in the football-crazy Calhoun area.

"They mean a lot to everybody here," Calhoun coach Clay Stephenson said Wednesday morning after a coveted Thanksgiving week practice. "They have been a part of the program their whole lives, first ball boys, then managers and now players.

"I'm very proud to be able to coach them the past four years. They are pillars of the community. They reach out on their own to do things with kids — they go to recreational league practices and volunteer to do anything anybody asks them to do. They are pillars of the community."

Of course, the impact is greater because the two stand out on the gridiron, and never as much as in last week's 49-42 win at Ware County. Christian, a quarterback, had perhaps his best game in a three-year starting career as Calhoun upset a team ranked No. 1 in some state polls, while linebacker Christopher had a great part in the most critical play yet of his stellar career.

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Calhoun football players Christian and Christopher Lewis

Christian shredded the proud Ware County defense for 447 yards and three touchdowns through the air, also adding a 22-yard touchdown run, as he led the Jackets to six consecutive scoring drives after they fell behind 21-7 in the first half. For the season, he has passed for 2,675 yards, 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

Christopher has a team-best 124 tackles, three of which have resulted in fumbles. None was bigger than the one he helped cause against Ware County as he and fellow senior Gage Leonard combined to hit quarterback Thomas Castellanos at the 2-yard line with the Jackets protecting a seven-point lead with less than 20 seconds to play. The ball popped out and was recovered by another senior, Dustin Kerns, to secure the thrilling win over the Gators.

The long bus ride back to Calhoun — Stephenson said it arrived just before 5 a.m. Saturday — was no doubt filled with lots of good-natured "Who was the bigger star?" ribbing between the twins. Make no mistake, the Lewis brothers are as competitive with each other as they are similar in appearance.

It's a big part, they said, of their success.

"We compete in just about everything," Christian said, "from who can get out of the house in the morning first to who can brush their teeth the fastest to who can finish breakfast first — really anything. To me, it's all a fundamental part of our success both on and off the field here, because we always push each other."

Christian, the cerebral quarterback who wants to major in kinesiology in college, is the more outgoing of the two. He's a born leader — even his brother said so — who can motivate his teammates with just a look but isn't afraid to make a point verbally if necessary.

"Christian comes off as an open guy, but what people really don't know is he's trying to do what's best for people in every situation," Christopher said. "He's just trying to keep everybody up, and that makes him a great leader."

Christopher, as described by his brother, is a leader by example. He rarely has to show his defensive mates the same thing more than once before they fall in line. But, as his twin knows, there is another side.

"Christopher, if you get to know him, he's one of the goofiest people you would ever meet," Christian said with a laugh. "He doesn't show it all the time, but he's really funny. I believe we're both leaders. I'm more of the encourager type, and I think I'm pushing you along. Christopher is more straight to the point, lead by example type."

As diverse as those personalities might be, they haven't created any distance between the twins. In fact, as of now they are only considering college programs that will take them both.

"We are a package deal at this point," said Christian, who added that Berry College, the NCAA Division III program just one county over in Rome, is currently a leader for the pair's services. "Really, when we tell them we will only go together, coaches seem to love it. We play both sides of the ball, and we bring two different approaches to the team. Going to college together and keeping that chemistry we've created all our lives is a big deal."

Contact Lindsey Young at lyoung@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.

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