Joeckel twins leading Arlington High

Once a QB, Luke Joeckel now a lineman spends his time protecting his QB brother. Courtesy of The Joeckel Family

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Joeckel twins of Arlington (Texas) High learned just how different they are -- at least as football players -- during the one season that they played the same position.

Matt and Luke were quarterbacks on different squads in the seventh grade. That's when Luke, previously a lineman, figured out he was playing out of position.

"I lost my mentality of just hitting people when I went to quarterback, and I didn't want to lose that," Luke said. "I wanted to go back to the line and start hitting people again."

Luke now leaves the business of hitting receivers to his fraternal twin, who is two minutes older.

Luke is a 6-foot-6, 295-pound left tackle for the Arlington Colts. Matt is a 6-5, 235-pound quarterback.

"They used to be exactly the same, couldn't tell them apart," said senior receiver Brandon Lewis.

Neither the twins nor their parents -- Dave and Reecanne Joeckel -- can cite why one twin put on so much more weight. "It was kind of recent, through high school," Matt said. "He gained 100 in high school, me maybe 20, 30."

Twins run in Reecanne's side of the family. Offensive linemen run in the family, too. Dave played there for Texas Tech in the late 1970s and early '80s. Older brother David is a senior right guard at DePauw University, an NCAA Division III school in Indiana. Mom and Dad frequently follow the twins' Friday night exploits and then catch the Saturday 7 a.m. flight to Indianapolis.

The twins' senior season will start on Aug. 27 with a road game against Creekview High (Carrollton, Texas) followed by the highlight of Arlington's nondistrict season, a visit from perennial Texas power Carroll (Southlake, Texas). The Colts' most recent long playoff run was ended by Carroll in the 2002 Class 5A Division II quarterfinals.

Luke is considered one of the best offensive linemen in the state. He has started since his sophomore year, which was shortened when he broke his left leg in the third game of the season.

Matt shared starting time that season with senior quarterback Brandon Kelsey, now at NCAA Division II Midwestern State in Wichita Falls, Texas. As a junior last season, Matt led quarterbacks in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with 29 touchdown passes and was among the leaders in yardage with 3,017.

"I have never had two kids that have such a great edge toward their position, toward the game," Arlington coach Scott Peach said.

"The thing Luke brings is, besides his edge, he's extremely physical. He plays from the start of the whistle to the end on every snap of every practice and every game. As a sophomore without the strength that he has now, he played with great leverage. He found a way to win.

"Matt is the ultimate leader. When he speaks, everybody on the football team listens. We're doing things in our offensive scheme that I'd never dreamed of doing in the previous 12 years that I've been on the offensive side of the football because of his great knowledge of the game. Because of the way he studies the game."

Mom and Dad have tried to perfect how to watch two sons playing at the same time, but that can be difficult. Dave said he tries to alternate his focus but often ends up following the ball. Monday film night usually helps.

In April, the twins committed to Texas A&M. That ended a three-month family road tour that included stops at Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas Tech, Baylor, Arkansas and Houston, and cancelled a planned jaunt to Alabama and some other Southeastern Conference schools. The boys said they were open to the idea of attending different colleges but really wanted to play together.

"But we weren't a package deal," Matt said. "We wanted our recruiting to be separate."

And why did they choose the Aggies?

Matt: "The people …"

Luke: "The coaches … We felt comfortable there. And we felt we could play to our best potential. We'd fit in the best there."

Yes, they sometimes finish each other's sentences. And more.

"We kind of have that twin thing," Matt said. "I wouldn't say I can read his mind …"

Said Luke: "… But you can watch film. You can see that he might be stepping up in the pocket. And at that exact time, I step up to block my guy."

Lewis, who has played with the Joeckels since freshman year, identified Luke as having a dry sense of humor and being more laid-back. Matt, he said, is more in-your-face funny and more energetic.

Last season, the Colts finished in a three-way tie for second place in District 4-5A. They advanced to the Division I playoffs since they were one of the two larger schools among the district's four qualifiers. Arlington defeated North Crowley (Fort Worth) and Odessa (Texas) before losing to Trinity (Euless, Texas).

Peach, entering his seventh season with the Colts, is the son of Eddy Peach, longtime coach across town at Lamar (Arlington). Their meetings are called the "Peach Bowl," like college football's "Bowden Bowl." The Colts won last year 50-40.

Arlington is picked to win the district, with nine players projected as three-year starters. Scott Peach pointed out that in games decided by seven points or fewer during the past two seasons with Matt under center, the Colts are 8-1. In the three previous seasons, they were 2-7.

"The difference was Matt Joeckel," Peach said. "When the game is on the line, he is going to make the kind of plays he needs to win."

And if anyone picks on Matt, they'll also have Luke to answer to. And vice versa.

"They're best friends," Peach said. "They have each other's back. You're going to get both of them."

Jeff Miller is a freelance writer in Texas and can be reached at miller.jeff55@gmail.com.