BY BRAD LOCKE
From the first day Juston and Preston Robertson arrived in Calhoun City, Mike Ray has inexplicably been able to tell the twins apart.
And that was before they could grow facial hair.
The Robertsons are now seniors for coach Ray's Calhoun City squad, which will battle East Marion on Saturday in the Class 2A state championship game. The identical twins are woollier, too.
Preston sports a goatee, while Juston distinguishes himself with a full beard minus the moustache. Both stand 6-foot-1, but Juston is five pounds heavier at 230. Juston is more of a talker.
Otherwise, they're a perfect physical match.
On the field, both are third-year starters on the offensive line. Juston also starts at defensive tackle, where he's backed up by Preston.
"Preston's a little better on offense, but Juston's a little better on defense," Ray said.
Juston has 64 tackles and four sacks, Preston 40 and one for the 13-1 Wildcats. But where the brothers have been most valuable is on offense.
Two years after moving in from Terry, the Robertsons were part of a sophomore group that Ray decided to build his offense around. That group included fellow linemen Mitchell Crutchfield and Wesley Martin, quarterback Malcolm Belim and receiver Marcus Fox, who's no longer with the team.
This year's offensive line, which also includes junior Blake Goodson, has cleared the way for a rushing attack that's averaging 247 yards per game and has two 1,000-yard rushers in Belim and junior tailback Lamarcus Pittman.
"They get after every team pretty good," Belim said. "We just make plays behind them."
It's a group that's quite comfortable with itself. The intangible connection the Robertsons have with each other has made for a very cohesive line.
Couple that with the three years' experience, and Calhoun City's got some sharp hogs. There isn't a defensive set they haven't seen, and Ray lets them make blocking adjustments on their own.
Preston said there's nobody in particular to whom the other linemen look.
"We all play good together," he said. "We all know what to do."
Added Juston, "We've been there for each other."
The Robertsons didn't always play well together, which isn't surprising considering a) their competitive natures and b) they're brothers. Ray originally had them lined up next to each other, but he later moved Preston from left tackle to right tackle and kept Juston at left guard.
The twins get along just fine now, and that means trouble for opponents.
"In a game they may get whipped (on a play)," Ray said, "but they're bound and determined to get back at them."
Calhoun City (12-1)
Aug. 25 at Vardaman L, 34-28
Sept. 1 Independence W, 27-13
Sept. 8 at Water Valley W, 16-7
Sept. 15 Houston W, 27-7
Sept. 22 at Aberdeen W, 44-7
Sept. 29 J.Z. George W, 41-0
Oct. 6 Eupora W, 21-20
Oct. 13 at Ackerman W, 31-14
Oct. 20 at Williams-Sullivan W, 53-12
Oct. 27 Bruce W, 13-7
Nov. 3 Ruleville W, 44-6
Nov. 10 Leland W, 26-8
Nov. 17 at West Bolivar W, 35-34 (2OT)
Nov. 24 at Baldwyn W, 23-20