• John Macon Gillespie

Johnson Brothers are “Twin Towers” of Newton

Zachary and Zackariah Johnson might be the two most liked guys in Newton, Mississippi.

Surprisingly, that has nothing to do with the twins’ exceptional athletic abilities. They are both receivers for the Newton Tigers, and fans have appropriately dubbed the duo the “twin towers.”

In 2016 Zackariah was the Tigers’ leading receiver, while Zachary threw, caught and rushed for scores and totaled six.

No, that’s not why the Johnsons are so endeared. It’s because anyone from Newton that speaks about them, likes them. They always seem to be smiling, despite all they have endured in life.

Their lives took a turn when they were in just the eighth grade. In a car crash with other family members, they survived, but lost their mother and older brother.

“I used to go to sleep to get my mind off of it,” Zackariah, the younger brother by mere minutes, told SES Mississippi. “When we lost our mom, I didn’t know what the world would be like. She was all we had.”

Losing their older brother also hurt, because he took care of his younger brothers when their mom was at work. He played college football, and that inspires Zack and Zach today. They have a unique drive than most athletes of their talent, at their age.

“There’s a reason why we play this game besides trying to make it to the NFL,” Zack explained. “It’s to make them proud.”

In 2016 head coach Ryan Smith led the Tigers to a 7-3 regular season record that earned a spot in the playoffs. However, the season would end at the hands of St. Joe’s in the first round. Zach is sure next season will net different results, though.

“I told myself if we didn’t make it this year, we were definitely going to make next year,” the eldest brother said. “Next year is going to be epic.”

Zach plays quarterback, as well as receiver, and Zack mostly plays receiver. Their chemistry on the field is incredible boost for themselves and their team.

“It’s fun playing football with my brother. We know how to turn the game around when we’re on the field together. You can’t stop both of us,” Zackariah expalined.

“We don’t have to worry about each other, because we know just what each other are capable of,” Zachary continued.

Football is unquestionably the twins’ primary focus. They have been playing since “rookie league.” For the foreseeable future they hope to continue playing the game they love.

To do so they must work hard and that’s just what they plan to do this offseason. The goal this offseason is to get “bigger, stronger and faster.”

Next fall will mark their senior seasons at Newton, and their final year to play for coach Smith. They were able meet coach Smith first in middle school. He has had a significant impact in their lives.

“Coach Smith has influenced us in a positive way. He only wants the best for us, even though he pushes us harder than anyone else,” Zackariah said.

With state championship aspirations in 2017, Zachary already knows what it will take to win it all their final seasons as Tigers.

“We’ve got to be hungry, but humble,” He explained. “Everyone has to be on the same page. One person can’t do it alone.”

**Photo by Mary Rigdon.

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