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Canyon's twin billing: Liam and Israel Cabrera

Twin brothers play the same two positions on the field

Posted: August 27, 2013 7:59 p.m.
Updated: August 27, 2013 7:59 p.m.

Twin brothers Israel Cabrera, left, and Liam Cabrera are both headed into their junior year at Canyon. The two of them are playing wide receiver on offense and side-by-side at safety on the defensive side.

 

Come on.

Really?

Twins playing basically the same position?

So you’re going to tell us Canyon High that Israel and Liam Cabrera are now the team’s starting slot receivers and safeties?

Because they’re twins — right?

Just because they both like the same kind of music, share the same classes, look alike, sound alike, and like the same kind of foods doesn’t mean you have to put them in similar roles.

No, Canyon head coach Rich Gutierrez will tell you.

It’s not a novelty or some reason for the Cowboys to gain some sort of cute little story coming out of Canyon Country.

Canyon can’t afford to have cute stories — not in the ultra-competitive Foothill League.

Actually, Canyon has significant reasons for making its top returning receiver into a two-way starter and its most aggressive secondary member also into an offensive threat.

“Communication is huge because it’s almost like in a relationship,” Gutierrez says. “Like the twins. They’ve got a chemistry in the backfield when they play defense together. It’s like a sixth sense that they know where they’re at.”

There are significant fixes at Canyon for the 2013 football season — specifically on the defensive side where the team surrendered 29.5 points per game a year ago.

Something was lost in translation for the Canyon Cowboys football team last season.

With so many new faces in different positions, it caused a disconnect between the coaching staff and some of the players at times.

So when the communication is not straight, bad things can happen or even a unit can’t gel.

The defense didn’t gel till late in the season.

That shouldn’t be a problem from the start with the Cabreras being a big reason.

In the Cabreras, identical twins who are now in their second varsity season as juniors, Canyon has a pair of ultra-competitive, intelligent weapons.

Liam, at 5 feet, 10 inches tall and 170 pounds, was second on the Cowboys with 47 catches, 836 receiving yards and 13 touchdown catches last season. He was also an All-Foothill League offensive second-teamer.

The other player who played in the slot was Drew Wolitarsky, who took his state records of 5,147 career receiving yards and 281 receptions to the University of Minnesota.

Canyon needed someone to step into that role and chose Israel, who had one catch for 12 yards last season.

“He’s another weapon on the offense. He’s quick and he knows how to read defenses,” Liam says of his brother.

It’s obvious why.

Israel, at 5 feet, 10 inches tall and 165 pounds, made four interceptions — two in a 17-14 win over Hart last Nov. 2 — forced a fumble and recovered two fumbles from the free safety position last year.

He knows defenses.

Canyon had its issues in the secondary last year, but Cabrera had few.

He was an All-Foothill League defensive second-teamer.

Liam made 16 tackles last year, but was needed at strong safety for 2013.

“He’s honestly a threat on defense,” Israel says. “He’s a ball hawk and will make big tackles. I think he’s more of a safety, but he likes receiving.”

There are differences between the two — other than the little freckle by Israel’s nose that allows you to tell the difference between them.

And for people watching games, that’s Liam with No. 20 and Israel with No. 22.

Oh, and Israel has this running joke that he’s the better looking one.

Or was that Liam?

Sometimes teachers can’t tell the difference because for one day in school, as a joke, they switched classes.

Their classmates knew, but the teachers didn’t.

Off the field, both players are extremely likeable, polite and are good students.

Their parents are Canyon High graduates.

They’re big Canyon football fans, with posters and shirts from the 2006 Cowboys state championship team.

One thing is definite, Israel is the more aggressive one.

Or is that Liam?

“He says I’m more aggressive. He’s more aggressive,” Israel says. “He loses it. It’s horrible.”

But Israel loves to hit people. Liam is the finesse guy on offense, but he is assertive on offense.

“They’re piranhas,” Gutierrez says. “There’s a switch. They will bite you. I mean even your own players. They’re likable, but during practice they’ll even be tough. We were playing our JV in a scrimmage and Izzy felt a player was doing something to (a teammate) and he started (getting into it with) the kid.”

Gutierrez says they bring an aggressive mentality to the team and their teammates listen to them.

And communication is huge, right?

At least Canyon knows one thing — there are four positions of 22 on the offense and defense combined.

Four of those positions will be on the same page at all times.

Two guys man that position.

Or is it one?

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