November 23, 2013 Updated: November 24, 2013 at 4:33 am
Late in the first half of a stupendously thrilling high school football playoff game, Coronado quarterback Joah Smith retreated into the pocket and locked eyes on his favorite receiver. Joah is a teenager, but he's been locking eyes with this receiver for more than a decade.
He was looking at his twin brother, Sam, who was tightly covered by The Classical Academy's defense. Didn't matter. Joah and Sam are blessed with a radarlike connection.
"Me and him have this thing where he knows where I am going and I know where he's going," Joah said. "I know where to throw it every time with him."
Joah flinched when he thought back to the throw.
"Was a little behind him," Joah said.
Sam beamed when he remembered his brother's riflelike toss.
"A perfect pass," he said. "Hit me right in stride."
Sam was on his way to the end zone, and Coronado was on its way to victory. But this 28-27 win in the 3A state semifinal Saturday, and the trip to the Nov. 30 state title game, did not come easily.
Late in the fourth quarter, Sam intercepted a pass by TCA's Jantzen Ryals, setting off an emotional celebration on the Coronado sideline. Teammates were shouting in Sam's ear, but Joah didn't say a word. Joah hugged his brother and walked away.
"We just know each other so well, we're twins, and that's what happens," Sam said.
"He knew what I was thinking, and I knew what he was thinking so we really didn't need to talk about it."
The interception appeared to place a stake in TCA's heart, but the brothers then watched Ryals and his TCA teammates come oh-so close to removing the stake and marching out of Garry Berry Stadium with a comeback win.
Ryals, with the help of some extremely questionable officiating, pushed TCA to what appeared a tying touchdown in the waning seconds. Joah was on the sidelines, preparing for overtime, barely paying attention to what happened next.
TCA coach David Bervig took a brilliant, courageous gamble. Using a tricky play full of convincing acting by his players, Bervig went for two points and the victory.
"That was really gutsy," Joah said.
Yes, it was. Bervig should be applauded for his nerve and his strategy. It's not his fault Coronado's defense refused to be fooled by his well-conceived deception and stopped Ryals short of the end zone.
"It was just a bad decision," Bervig said immediately after the game.
A few minutes later, Bervig arrived at a more accurate view of his decision. In life, you receive huge rewards from taking huge risks.
"Had he scored on that fake, I'd be a hero, right?" Bervig asked.
That's right, coach. That is exactly right.
Coronado's defensive stop means the Joah and Sam show continues for one more week. Both brothers agree it's best for Joah to do the throwing and Sam to do the catching.
"Oh, he has no hands," Sam said of Joah's prospects as a receiver. "It goes right through his hands when we're playing catch."
Joah instantly answered when asked if Sam could have thrown a touchdown pass to him.
"Ah, he couldn't have done it," Joah said. "He doesn't have that great of an arm."
The brothers started playing catch in kindergarten and within years they were talking of someday taking a ride with their Coronado friends and teammates to a state title.
The vision is within sight, only one win away from these twins with the radarlike connection.