Freeport's Hochbein twins bring experience on both sides of ball
Freeport's Hochbein twins have given teachers headaches by showing up at each other's classes and have fooled football coach John Gaillot by trading their helmet and jersey numbers at practice.
This fall, juniors Brandon and Dylan Hochbein will prove whether they can make opponents' heads spin with their double dose of versatility.
Returning starters on both sides of the ball, the Hochbeins resemble each other in physical appearance (6-foot-2, 175 pounds), demeanor and athletic abilities. Both likely will shape Freeport's season as receivers, safeties, returners and even punters.
“I think we're basically identical on the football field and in track and basketball and everything,” Brandon said. “I don't feel like I have better hands than he does, and it's not like he's quicker than me. And we both put forth as much effort as we can.”
The brothers performed well as part of Freeport's mass of underclassmen starters in 2013. Dylan finished with a team-high 15 receptions for 185 yards, five carries for 53 yards, 34 tackles and one interception. Brandon had 11 catches for 156 yards, 12 tackles and one interception.
Brandon also punted 18 times and averaged 34.94 yards per attempt, while Dylan had three punts and a 29-yard average.
As much as the twins want each other to succeed, they still tend to earn the title of more talented brother. Between football, basketball, off-road quad/dirt bike racing and track, where they excel as hurdlers and mid-distance sprinters, the Hochbeins have numerous opportunities to test one another.
“It's always about having to beat your brother whether it's in any sport,” Dylan said. “Especially in track. If he beats me by a time, the next race, I have to beat him by the same time. So it's just a thing in my mind. But in the end, it's always about the victory for your team.”
The twins' similarities make it easy for coaches, teachers, friends and even family members to mistake one for the other. Even Brandon and Dylan struggle to identify what sets them apart. So they've learned to shrug at the use of “Hochbein” as the way for coaches and teammates to communicate with either at practice.
“I just kind of mess with them,” Brandon said. “I say, ‘What are we, objects now? We're not even individuals?' It never really gets on my nerves. I just correct them once in a while.”
Gaillot enjoys the quirks that come with coaching twins. He had the Carson twins who graduated in 2012, and, as a track coach, he also has dealt with the Jack twin sisters. The current punchline among the Yellowjackets is that the Hochbeins share all information and wisdom with each other.
“That's our joke now: If one knows it, the other one should know it,” Gaillot said.
Each brother sees track as his option for his collegiate athletics. Off-road racing gets the Hochbeins almost as wound up as track. In a rare departure from sameness, Dylan rides only dirt bikes, and Brandon prefers quads. But football is where they get the largest audience to see their bond.
Brandon and Dylan, noted goofballs at Freeport, don't want to disappoint with their two-man act.
“They've stopped calling us by our first names,” Dylan said. “We're basically the same person, so they refer to us as the same thing.”