Staff Photo: John Bohn Brothers and teammates Chase Loyd (26), left, and Morgan Loyd (12), right, are defensive players on the Dacula football team. The Loyd brothers are each interested in playing football or baseball on a scholarship at the collegiate level next year.
Jared Zito tried to play it safely.
The first-year Dacula football coach wanted to get Morgan Loyd's attention. But he wasn't sure if he was talking to Morgan or his twin brother Chase, so he just called him Loyd.
The ambiguity only lasted so long.
Eventually the Loyd brothers had to confront their coach. They told him the best way to tell who is who is by their haircut. Morgan has short hair, while Chase has longer hair. But only by about half an inch.
"They had to tell me. They got tired of me saying Loyds," Zito said with a chuckle. "That's the only way I can tell them apart. I do know Morgan is (number) 12 and Chase is 26. The problem is they don't wear those numbers in practice."
Zito has quickly had to learn the duo's names. Chase and Morgan have emerged as the leaders on Dacula's defense this season. Morgan is the team's leading tackler at middle linebacker with 47 stops, while Chase is No. 2 on the team with 43 tackles.
"They are both physical players," Zito said. "They are not just guys that run in there with a reckless abandon, they really understand where they fit in the scheme."
The Loyd brothers are three-year starters on Dacula's defense. They are part of a deep senior class that has high expectations for the season. They got a dose of reality to begin the year when they started 0-2. The worst part was the defense allowed 70 points in two games.
"It kind of humbled us and made us realize us we're not as good as we thought we were," Chase said. "Not matter what, we have to come ready to play everybody."
Dacula had a bye week and regrouped defensively. The next game, the Falcons held defending state champion Brookwood to just six points and made three big stops in the red zone. Chase and Morgan each made seven tackles, including a touchdown saving tackle on a punt return by Morgan.
The Falcons' defense has allowed 16.2 points a game since the rough 0-2 start and Zito credits the change to the leadership of the Loyd brothers.
"They've kind of become not only spoken leaders for the defense, but for the team," Zito said. "They've bought in and it's become contagious with the team."
Chase is the oldest by eight minutes, but Morgan has more football experience. The two started playing when they were in fifth grade. The summer before they started playing, Chase broke his hip when Morgan T-boned him with a jet ski.
Chase had to miss all but the last two games of the season. The first time he ever tackled someone was when he practiced against his brother in the front yard.
Since then the two have been inseparable on the football field. They do drills together, they play linebacker next to each other, they both play fullback on offense and they both share kicking duties with Morgan as the punter and Chase doing kickoffs.
"Their play speaks for themselves," Zito said. "They give you what they have and they are solid players."
Morgan was the team's top tackler last season with 85 stops. He posted 15 tackles against Grayson and Parkview. As the middle linebacker, he calls the shots for the unit.
"He's a big leader," Chase said. "He can probably tell everyone on the defense what they have to do on a play. He knows everybody's position."
Morgan's knowledge of the game is helpful for other players, except for when he tries to tell Chase what to do. That's one of the few times they have brotherly fights. Neither one likes to take orders from the other, especially Chase who likes to be in charge.
"We're in competition with everything," Morgan said.
Zito is still reluctant at times to identify the Loyd brothers by their first names. Watching film of the two has made it easier with Morgan lined up in the middle and Chase, who typically wears arm pads, on the outside at linebacker.
"They are good old-fashioned throwback players in terms of they are here to play football, they are here to work everyday, they do what a linebacker is supposed to do and is a blue-collar kind of kid," Zito said.
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