Goss: Gray twins leading Lincoln-Way West rise
By Dick Goss email@example.com August 25, 2013 5:52PM
Andrew (left) and Alex Gray, of Lincoln-Way West. | Dick Goss~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 27, 2013 6:15AM
If you have difficulty distinguishing who’s who, Lincoln-Way West assistant coach Larry Lokanc said his method works.
“The one with long hair has more letters in his name,” he said. “The one with short hair has fewer letters.”
Meet twins Andrew (longer hair) and Alex (shorter hair) Gray. They are the high-character second-year captains and third-year defensive starters for a West team that believes a 14-game season is a realistic goal.
As much as football means to the Grays, Warriors coach Dave Ernst said they are leaders not only on the field but also in school.
“They ran the school pep assembly the first day,” he said. “That shows what they’re about.”
“Andrew and I were on the mike for the assembly,” Alex said with a smile. “They told us we couldn’t get up there and talk football, but we got football into it a little.”
No surprise there.
“The Grays love football. They’re football junkies,” Ernst said. “They don’t have many other interests. Football is their life. They don’t have them yet, but both, I think, are going to get Division I offers.”
Andrew is 6-foot-2, 185 pounds and Alex is 6-3, 195. Both are solid students, football smart and can run. Both tried other sports in earlier years, but nothing turned them on like the gridiron.
“It’s all football with us,” Alex said.
“They’re different players, though,” Ernst said. “Alex is a safety and linebacker and Andrew a safety and cover guy. When we use two safeties, Alex is a safety.”
“I play 10 yards back and he walks down (toward the line of scrimmage),” Andrew said.
Last season, both made 63 tackles, with Alex winning the battle of solo stops 32-27. Andrew, though, prevailed 4-3 in the interception derby.
Yes, they do compete against each other.
“We compete in everything we do, whether it’s Xbox, for food at home or tackles and interceptions,” Andrew said. “It’s really helped us to be so competitive.”
They’ve been playing on the same football team for 11 years, since they were 6. If they can extend that for four or five more years, all the better.
“Both of us are getting interest from I-AA (Football Championship Subdivision) teams,” Alex said. “But going D-I is definitely something we want to do if we can. We want to go together if we can, too.”
“We plan to try to stay together, but it’s hard to find a school that needs two of us who play a similar position,” Andrew said.
West is returning six other defensive starters besides the Grays. The Warriors’ season ended last fall by less than a yard in a 21-20 overtime loss to Joliet Catholic in the Class 5A quarterfinals. Andrew was a terror before being knocked out with an injury on the first play of overtime.
“If we pick up where we left off, our defense shouldn’t be a problem this year,” Andrew said. “It was actually a little better than I expected last year. We worked hard in the offseason on tackling and footwork. I can see the difference already.”
Alex said beating Kaneland in the playoffs last season before nearly knocking off Joliet Catholic demonstrated that football on Thanksgiving weekend is a realistic goal.
“We’re going to try to play 14 and win the last one,” he said. “With what happened last year, we definitely got the feeling it’s possible. Even though we lost to Joliet Catholic, it was a big confidence booster, that and beating Kaneland.”
“The only thing we can do is get better from the Joliet Catholic loss,” Andrew said. “The way that finished, it motivated us to always finish drills and always go 100 percent. One yard can make a big difference.”
There is no gray area with the Warriors. It’s full bore every step of the way.
The Gray twins will ensure that.