Off the field, Terell and Makell Haley are practically inseparable, like many other sets of identical twins.
But on the football field, the Hillcrest seniors are usually far apart, and that’s a good thing. In fact, that’s by design, according to Hillcrest head coach Andy Todd, who usually plays Terell at running back and Makell at safety.
As long as one is on offense and the other on defense, it helps to alleviate the sort of sibling rivalry that has sometimes caused too much friction.
“Part of the reason to do that is to keep them from being with each other on the sidelines,” Todd said. “They haven’t always been the best influence on each other. They’ve made a lot of strides and grown up this year.”
The twins are fine with the arrangement. They agree that their maturity level has improved since their freshman days, when Terell was a subvarsity quarterback and Makell was the running back.
“We used to argue, but now we just motivate each other,” Makell said.
The Haleys are each key contributors for a Hillcrest team that hopes to end a three-year playoff drought this season. Both brothers scored a touchdown in a season-opening win over W.T. White, and Terell is one of the area leaders in rushing yardage.
“In the game, we basically compete against each other,” Terell said. “If he scores a touchdown, then I want to score a touchdown.”
The identical twins have caused a few double-takes among opponents, but they’ve also caused some confusion among teammates and coaches when they’re not wearing their jerseys. For example, Todd used to distinguish Makell because of a scar on the side of his head, but then they both grew their hair out — and added the same blonde streak for good measure.
Even the Haleys concede there aren’t many differences between them, although they each have their respective names tattooed in script across their chests.
Their shared interests extend to the track and field season, when the Haleys each qualified for regionals as part of the same sprint relay for the Panthers. Terell also won a district title in the 100 meters.
So it’s natural that once they graduate next spring, they hope to play football in college — together, of course. And their coach said that such an arrangement would probably be mutually beneficial.
“They’re interchangeable in a lot of ways, not just in looks but also with their skill set,” Todd said. “I don’t think they even think about it anymore. It’s so second-nature to them. I think if one of them burns, the other one gets a blister.”