The quarterback looks to the right and sees an aggressive defensive end pushing past his tackle, forcing him to the left. As he glances to the left, he sees another player that looks a lot like the first one, charging toward him in a bull rush.
He probably thinks he’s seeing double, but it’s just Catholic twins Javen and Jamarion Augustus, a pair of senior book ends on the Knights’ defensive front.
The pair are in their second year, lining up on opposite ends of the line in a normal front and alongside each other in a four-man front. Heading into the Trinity game, Javen has 64 tackles (25 solo, 39 assists), including 17 for loss, while Jamarion has 52 tackles (20 solo, 32 assists), including 13 tackles for loss. While their styles are nearly identical, Javen has a few more tackles, he points out, because he is the more aggressive of the two.
“We’re like the same player,” Javen said, “I’m just a little more aggressive than him.”
“I disagree on that,” Jamarion cut in. “I don’t think he is. He claims he is, but he’s definitely not.”
Even their coaches can’t tell them apart.
“We make one of them wear a sleeve and the other not because they wear ‘16’ and ‘17’ and look the same and run the same, so it’s hard to tell them apart,” Catholic coach Kirk Johnson said. “When an assignment is missed, we know (who it is) by the sleeve that Javen wears.”
Javen is 6-foot-4, 210 pounds and is a two-year starter at defensive end. Jamarion is slightly smaller at 6-foot-3, 206 pounds (hence the nickname “Little Twin”) and moved to defensive end midway through the 2020 season, starting the final nine games of 2020 and all of 2021 at defensive end.
They went to Floyd Middle Magnet School and knew they would have to change schools to play football (Montgomery magnet high schools do not offer football) so they ended up at Macon East Academy in 2019, then transferred to Catholic in 2020.
“They started off kind of slow,” Johnson said. ‘“Little Twin’ wanted to play receiver when he first got here so we gave him the opportunity to do it. But when you’ve got Miles (Butler) and D.J. (Carter at the position), it’s hard to jump out there and play receiver. ‘Big Twin,’ we continued to walk him through his lumps, but we knew he’d be a good defensive lineman because he’s so athletic and was strong. It just took a second to get him to buy in. Now, ‘Little Twin’ has made the transition to the defensive line late last season and he’s come along as well.”
Javen admits there was a little adjustment period as he went from Macon East Academy, where he played a variety of roles, to Catholic, where he could concentrate on playing defensive end.
“Honestly, the game is a little different coming from an AISA school,” he said. “It took me until the (2020) playoffs to really get with the program and fall into it the way Coach wants me to play.”
Jamarion took a little longer to find his niche after starting the 2020 season at receiver.
“I ended up changing positions to defensive end midway through the season, against Pike County,” he said. “It was a much better fit for me. I’ve been on defense since then. I actually don’t know why I made that decision (to play receiver). It’s just something I thought of at the time. I thought it was the best fit but it turned out it wasn’t.
“Starting off, Javen had a headstart on learning the defense and what to do -- the blitzes and things like that -- but I ended up catching on as time went on. By the spring, I was running at the speed I needed to.”
It only takes a minute or two of conversation to figure out just how competitive the two are and how a simple play -- certainly in a game, but often in practice as well -- can turn into a family dispute.
“It happens a lot,” Javen said. “One time we got a sack together and he claimed it was his, that he was there first. Usually in a game, I can tell who has more tackles -- ‘Hey, I have more than you’ or ‘You need to pick it up’ -- but we usually have about the same amount.”
“It stays in the same area,” Jamarion said. “We just try to make sure I hold my side and he holds his side.”
But who really had the sack?
“Actually, it was his sack,” Jamarion admitted.
“They got into it the other day at practice,” Johnson said. “They really do make each other better. They compete all the time. Their parents are phenomenal and stay on them all the time, so what most people don’t realize is Jamarion has a 4.1 grade-point average and Javen has a 3.985 grade-point average.”
After reaching the 3A finals last year, there are lofty expectations for Catholic this season and, to this point, Javen feels like his team is playing much better than the team that lost to Fyffe in the 2020 championship game.
“I feel like our team has more chemistry,” he said. “We know each other and hang out with each other, so we have a better bond on and off the field. We all play our keys and trust each other. We all do our jobs and our assignments and everything just falls into place.”
The Catholic defensive starters haven’t allowed a point this season, but really grabbed attention two weeks ago with a 42-0 win over Montgomery Academy after losing to the Eagles at the same point in 2020.
“Going into the MA game, I wasn’t worried about this and that,” Jamarion said. “People are going to speculate and say what they want about it being a close game or our first real game, but I didn’t think it was. I thought it was going to be a blowout and it ended up being that way.”
The pair are drawing interest from college recruiters but are only interested in attending the same college.
“You have to entertain every college that talks to you, in the first place, because that’s a blessing,” Javen observed. “Usually, I will tell them we’re a package deal. I have a twin brother who also plays the same position. If they’re interested in that, you’ll be at the top of their recruiting board; if not, you’ll be mid to bottom.”
To this point, Alabama State and Samford are the only schools to offer both, but that could change with a deep run in the playoffs.
“(Javen) is just more developed at this point,” Johnson said. “They’re going to go somewhere and probably play overhang, a ‘jack’ or a ‘star,’ those type positions. They both can run. The game changer twist for those guys is their 100-meter dash times are like 11.2. And while Javen has more (recruiting interest) right now, they’re not going to school apart. Jamarion just needs more tape.
“Whatever school can provide them the best opportunity for both of them, that’s where they’re going, if it’s Alabama State or Alabama. They just want to play together and be together.”
In the meantime, both will continue to battle each other -- and their opponents -- for 3A supremacy. Not surprisingly, they have the same individual goals for the 2021 season.
“Make sure we win, number one,” Javen said. “Then embarrass the O-linemen, make sure they know your name by the end of the game, make sure they’re talking about you.”
“Make a name for yourself,” Jamarion added, “so that everyone who plays you knows who you are.”