Smith twins a tough tandem for Trinity

Smith twins a tough tandem for Trinity

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Smith twins a tough tandem for Trinity

Shamrocks face St. X on Friday at PJCS

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Shamrocks face St. X on Friday at PJCS

The C-J’s Jason Frakes and Chris White take a look at the matchup between Trinity and St. X.

WR Jovel Smith celebrates with RB Jovan Smith during theTrinity football game against Lafayette in Lexington, KY on Friday, September 3, 2016. Mike Weaver/Special to the CJ

WR Jovel Smith celebrates with RB Jovan Smith during theTrinity football game against Lafayette in Lexington, KY on Friday, September 3, 2016. Mike Weaver/Special to the CJ

By now high school football fans likely have heard of Trinity twins Jovan and Jovel Smith, but don’t feel bad about not being able to tell them apart.

Without jersey numbers, Trinity’s Bob Beatty said he’d have no clue – even after four seasons as their head coach.

“I just call them ‘Twin,’” Beatty said with a smile.

Jovan and Jovel have established themselves in different roles for a Trinity football team that is 6-0 and No. 3 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings. The Shamrocks are preparing for their annual showdown with No. 6 St. Xavier (4-1) at 8 p.m. Friday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

Jovan Smith leads the Shamrocks with 438 rushing yards and has scored two touchdowns on 69 carries (6.3 yards per carry). He also has six receptions for 55 yards and is a dangerous kickoff returner, averaging 27.8 yards on four attempts this season.

Jovel Smith ranks second on the team with 14 receptions for 235 yards and five touchdowns.

WR Jovel Smith celebrates with Jovan Smith during theTrinity football game against Lafayette in Lexington, KY on Friday, September 3, 2016. Mike Weaver/Special to the CJ

WR Jovel Smith celebrates with Jovan Smith during theTrinity football game against Lafayette in Lexington, KY on Friday, September 3, 2016. Mike Weaver/Special to the CJ

The twins were offensive linemen and linebackers during their youth-football days before choosing to take separate paths on offense at Trinity.

“Jovan wanted to play running back really bad,” Jovel said. “So I was like, ‘I guess I’ll go to receiver.’ It wasn’t a problem. Jovan is more aggressive than I am. He’s a trash-talker. I’m laid-back. I might talk a little trash, but I’m laid back with it.”

Beatty said he briefly considered playing both at running back this season before moving Jovel back to wide receiver.

“Quite honestly, I think Jovan could probably play wide receiver and Jovel could play running back,” Beatty said. “But I think their strengths are where they are.”

Jovan Smith (6 feet, 190 pounds) was the Shamrocks’ No. 2 running back last year and rushed for 374 yards and nine touchdowns on 46 carries. This year he and fellow senior Roderick Thomas (63 carries, 355 yards, eight touchdowns) have formed a solid 1-2 punch in the backfield.

Beatty said Jovan has overcome two obstacles in becoming one of Trinity’s leaders.

“With any young man who plays running back in little league as talented as he is, they think they can just outrun anybody to the edge,” Beatty said. “With our schedule, you can’t do that. It’s taken him some time, but if you watch him run now he can run downhill. He catches the ball well, and most of all he blocks well.”

Jovan – a minute younger than Jovel – also admits he’s the louder of the twins and had to back off the trash talk in order to play a larger role on the team.

“We go to school and we talk about practice, and sometimes some people don’t want to hear about things,” said Jovan, who rushed for a season-high 122 yards on 14 carries in a 37-34 victory over Male on Sept. 9. “It’s just how we are. We love each other. … But we had to tone it down a little because we were getting a little too aggressive in practice. That’s just how I like to play the game, but I have no problem toning it down.”

Jovel is the faster of the twins and puts his speed to use as a slot receiver. He’s enjoyed a pair of big outings this season in victories over Lafayette (six catches, 89 yards, three touchdowns) and Pleasure Ridge Park (five catches, 111 yards, two TDs).

“His strength at the slot position really sets him apart,” Beatty said. “We’ve had slots in the past who were smaller guys and super-quick guys, but Jovel is quick, strong and long.”

Eartha Smith, their mother, said the twins have gotten along together their entire lives and rarely fought as youngsters. Their older brother, Jalen, now 19, played football and basketball at Trinity.

“Jalen was the guy to beat for them,” Eartha Smith said. “They’re all very close. There wasn’t a rivalry. They were all each other’s biggest cheerleaders. They all pushed each other to be better athletes and better people and better students.”

The twins plan to play football in college, with Lindsey Wilson College showing the most interest at this point. They plan to attend the same college.

“We just want to stay together because we’ve always played together,” Jovel said. “It would be extremely different without him right there by my side. Whenever we’re going through a tough time on the field we’re right there to pick each other up.”

Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and jfrakes@courier-journal.com.

GAME OF THE WEEK

* Who: St. Xavier (4-1) vs. Trinity (6-0).

* When: 8 p.m. Friday.

* Where: Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

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