EL CERRITO, Calif. -- When Keilan Benjamin (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) is flushed from the pocket, or when the 6-foot, 160-pound quarterback needs to find his “bailout man,” or when he has to make a play, he gets the ball to Keith Benjamin -- his twin brother.
“We’ve played with each other all our lives,” Keilan said. “It’s like another security blanket. During a game, when you see broken plays, I can always find a way to go to him.”
Keith called the siblings’ connection “twin telepathy.” When his brother is in trouble, the receiver knows where to go. He finds a spot on the field where he knows his brother will be able to get him the ball.
“I feel wherever he’s at,” Keith said. “I feel when he’s pressured. In a way it’s just like I know when he’s frustrated, so I know to run a route shorter or even run it longer, just give him an open window to choose from. Kind of become his bailout man. If nobody else is open, he knows where to find me.”
The connection the twins share helped the Gauchos get to the CIF North Coast Section Division III championship game.
Keith, the bailout man, turned 16 receptions into 650 receiving yards. He also had 13 carries for 300 yards. He often transformed broken plays into touchdowns. Keilan finished his junior season with more than 1,000 passing yards. He also rushed for more than 1,000 yards.
Considering the way the twins push each other, their 2012 success didn’t come as a surprise to those who know them best. They are as competitive as they are talented.
When the brothers meet new people, it doesn’t take long for Keith to reveal he is minutes older. And, while he doesn’t play quarterback, he still tries to throw the ball farther than Keilan.
“If we’re scoring touchdowns and he runs one in from 40, I’ve got to run one 41 yards,” he said. “Everything counts to me.”
After the way the twins played as juniors, their performances landed them on the recruiting radar.
“I want to go to college, D-I,” Keilan said. “I know I’m kind of undersized, but I figured I make up for that in speed. I just want to get a shot and just try to do my best from there.”
The twins have one more season of high school football left and, after that, they would like to continue their careers in matching uniforms at the next level. If they end up at separate schools, they hope to play in the same conference.
They want their friendly competition to continue.
“They’ve lived football together their entire lives,” El Cerrito coach Kenny Kahn said. “Pop Warner, obviously, up through high school. I think the reality is you take your opportunities when they knock and they’re realistic. They want an education. They want to play college football. If they can’t play on the same team, hopefully, they can play against each other in the same conference, because that’s the type of mentality they have.”