LYNNWOOD — Meadowdale seniors Josiah and Jeremiah Evans are two of the football team’s most important offensive players. They are also twins, though it’s not obvious at first glance.
Telling them apart is easy. Josiah’s the “one who looks a lot more like a lumberjack than a guy that would be good at football,” Mavericks head coach Mike Don said.
Josiah sports a beard that’s certainly the envy of any Meadowdale student who wants to grow facial hair. On the other hand, Jeremiah’s facial hair is modest and the long hair on his head resembles that of a rock star.
On the field, their heads are covered by helmets, but it’s still easy to distinguish between the two.
Jeremiah throws the passes. Josiah catches them.
The passing tandem is new to the Mavericks — Jeremiah is in his first full year as the varsity quarterback and Josiah is on offense for the first time in his high school career — but the two were playing together long before they ever put on Meadowdale jerseys.
“Jeremiah trusts Josiah,” Don said. “They’ve grown up together. He looks out and he knows that he trusts his brother and that he’ll make a play.”
That trust factor is especially important when a designed play breaks down.
“I can tell where he’s going to throw the ball,” Josiah said. “If he scrambles out of the pocket, I can get to a spot where he wants me to be. It’s easy to tell where he wants me to go.”
While Josiah has been one of the premier defensive backs in the Wesco 3A since he was a sophomore, his brother took a bit longer route to the varsity. Determined to play quarterback, he had to pay his dues. He spent most of last season on the junior varsity before coming up to play against Shorecrest, Eastlake and Glacier Peak — but a broken leg derailed his rise.
After an offseason of hard work and rehab, he returned this season eager to compete for the starting job.
“What happened in those (last) two games really brought down my confidence in myself,” Jeremiah said of his broken leg and losses to Eastlake and GP. “But over the summer I just worked on trying to get my form down so I can throw with confidence and trusting that my leg was healed so that I could run with the ball.”
He has done both this season completing, 56 of his 100 passes for 882 yards and six touchdowns, with just two interceptions. He’s also rushed for 260 yards and four touchdowns on 37 carries.
Don said Jeremiah likely could have contributed on varsity sooner at another position, but his focus was always on playing quarterback.
“When I was a little kid, I played other positions, but watching the NFL and college, I really fell in love with the quarterback position,” Jeremiah said. “I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
Jeremiah’s performance in the Mavericks’ second game of the season — a 30-0 win over Inglmoor — essentially sealed his status as the Mavericks’ No. 1 QB.
“I think the Inglemoor game was really the first game where he just kind of took the job and was definitely our guy,” Don said. “I think the biggest thing he brings is that he’s just a tough kid that brings multiple elements to the game. He can run it and he can throw it.”
The following week the Mavericks suffered their first defeat, a 20-14 loss to still-undefeated Edmonds-Woodway. Despite the setback, Jeremiah said he felt like he earned the respect and confidence of his teammates in that game.
He already had the respect and confidence of his brother.
“I really enjoy it when he is successful,” Josiah said. “It makes me happy because he has watched me be successful these past few years and it’s really good to share it on the field with him.”
Now Josiah has to share the limelight in the Evans family after having it all to himself for a couple years.
“Quarterbacks always get all the fame,” Josiah said. “So it’s all right.”
Adjusting to having his brother on varsity wasn’t as big of a challenge for Josiah as adjusting to playing offense for the first time, but the transition has been smooth, Don said.
“He’s got great hands and he runs great routes,” Don said. “He’s just a really consistent kid.”
Josiah has caught 15 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns and ranks second in the Wesco 3A South in receiving yards. “He’s kind of been the go-to guy for us,” Don said.
Josiah has made the transition to offense look easy but insists it was tough at first.
“Running routes and catching the ball is a lot different than playing defense,” he said. “I had to get used to it, but I kind of like offense a little better.”
In last week’s non-conference game against Eastlake, the Evans brothers had their roughest game of the season. Jeremiah finished 3-for-15 for 41 yards and Josiah was held without a catch. It wasn’t pretty, but it might have been just what the Mavericks needed going into tonight’s showdown against Glacier Peak, a matchup that features the co-leaders in the Wesco 3A South.
“We came into (the Eastlake) game really flat,” Jeremiah said. “We needed to get our butts kicked. Better now than in playoffs.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.