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Theory of Relativity at El Camino Real

Football: Graham twins connect mentally and physically as quarterback and receiver.


WOODLAND HILLS — Some twins claim to share an unexplainable psychic connection. Jonathan and Justin Graham of El Camino Real High say they don't have that bond, but they proved otherwise for a moment last week.

Jonathan, the starting quarterback, and fraternal twin Justin, a wide receiver, communicated without words when a running play was called on the first play from scrimmage last Friday against San Fernando.

As the Conquistadores broke huddle, Jonathan looked at Justin and knew the play had to be changed.

"He wasn't being covered," Jonathan said. "He didn't have to say anything. I just looked at his eyes for a second and he knew I was going to [throw to] him."

Although Jonathan completed a total of only five passes in the previous three games, he threw a strike to Justin for an 18-yard gain.

Less than a year after leading the Conquistadores' frosh-soph team to a 10-0 record, the Graham twins are making an impact on the varsity.

El Camino Real (2-1-1, 1-0 in conference play) is the early season surprise of the Northwest Valley Conference, keeping pace with favorites Taft, Kennedy and San Fernando despite playing a demanding nonconference schedule.

The Conquistadores routed San Fernando, 63-30, in their Northwest Valley opener and play at Kennedy (3-1, 1-0) tonight at 7.

The juniors don't put up gaudy numbers, but both have come through when needed.

Jonathan has thrown 21 passes--fewer than any starting quarterback in the conference--but has yet to have one intercepted. He has run for 102 yards and scored a touchdown.

Two weeks ago, he became a starting safety.

Justin has caught two passes, but his biggest impact has been as backup tailback. He stepped in against Chaminade in week two and scored the winning touchdown late in the game.

Justin, who has rushed for 172 yards and four touchdowns, also plays cornerback.

Both play sports year-round. They hope play varsity basketball and baseball after playing on junior varsity teams last year.

Teammates often think of the Grahams as a tandem, but other than sharing an intense interest in sports, they can be exceedingly different.

Jonathan, 6 feet 2 and 180 pounds, is nearly five inches taller than Justin and is considered the serious one, completely dedicated to practice.

Justin is a happy-go-lucky type with a fondness for sweet cereal. He tends to save his concentration for games.

"Jonathan doesn't smile a whole lot, but when he does, it's usually because of something Justin said," said Dave Seidelman, El Camino Real frosh-soph coach.

"Justin is more laid-back off the field, but in games there's nobody who is more focused."

The Grahams spend time apart at school. When Justin had to rearrange his school schedule this fall, the twins wound up in the same physical science class--the first time they have been in a class together.

"It's great, we each do half the homework," Jonathan said.

They've also had to be close, sharing a bedroom until older brother Marc moved out last year.

"We have similar interests with football and sports, but we have different approaches," Jonathan said.

"Yeah, we argue like brothers sometimes, but we really don't have big fights."

Despite their differences, Justin and Jonathan took similar paths their first two years in high school.

After starting on the frosh-soph team as freshmen, both might have been talented enough to play on the varsity as sophomores. But they would have had to wait on the bench behind established players.

Aaron Fredette was a two-year starter at quarterback, and Justin would have been buried behind Quincy Wright, DeAngelo Nedd, Jared Maiden and Devontra Hargrove at running back.

Jonathan practiced with the varsity for two weeks, but Coach Rick Hayashida figured the quarterback would benefit from playing time on the frosh-soph team.

He was correct.

Jonathan completed 42 passes on the frosh-soph team and 15 went for touchdowns, and he had only one pass intercepted. He rushed for 411 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Justin averaged 11 yards a carry, rushing for 13 touchdowns and catching 11 passes.

But running past frosh-soph defenders is different than playing varsity football. There have been a few growing pains.

First, Justin had to switch from running back to wide receiver.

"It wasn't hard," he said. "I'm always catching [Jonathan's] passes at home."

Both twins experienced butterflies before the season opener.

"We were nervous," Justin said. "We went from frosh-soph to playing Dorsey."

Jonathan struggled, completing two of nine passes for 39 yards in a 12-12 tie against Dorsey.

But, with each game, he has become more effective at running the Conquistadores' ground-oriented attack.

They've already earned the respect of teammates.

"We had heard a lot about them last year," Nedd said. "They thought they were big because they went 10-0. Jon and Justin have really shown they can step in and play."

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