Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2012, 6:36 pm

Mercer County football built on brotherly love

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By Daniel Makarewicz,

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
The three Snyder brothers, Logan, Jesse and Zeke, all play offense for the Mercer County Golden Eagles. Twins Logan and Jesse are running backs and younger brother Zeke, a junior, starts as an offensive linemen.The siblings are separated by 13 months in age.
ALEDO — Informed that his three sons comprise more than a quarter of the Mercer County football team's offensive starters, Jason Snyder found a serious tone.

"That," Snyder said, "is an honor."

Nat Zunkel, the Mercer County head coach, offered a different perspective.

"If you think about it," Zunkel said, "that's pretty funny."

Any way you look at it, the superlatives would not tell the whole story.

Most of the time that Mercer County has the ball, Jesse, Logan and Zeke Snyder are inside the huddle. The first two — identical twins — are key components to the Golden Eagles' ground game as senior running backs; the younger brother is a starting junior offensive tackle.

Thus, it is possible that one of the twins could follow lead blocks from his two brothers on a touchdown run.

"It's really special," Zeke said. "We've really got something going."

Part of that involves being a significant portion of the Mercer County offense.

"It's not sinking in yet," Jesse said. "When it's over, we'll talk about it — the good things we did and the fun we had."

From the outside, the fun appears to be confined to this season. In reality, this trio always has been close.

Born 13 months apart, there hardly were days when these three were apart. Sports brought them together, with mom and dad — who both participated in sports back in the day — providing the athletic genes.

Football and baseball occupied the backyard, with wrestling taking over on the inside.

"There were always two of them doing something," Jason said. "It was 2-against-1, and it was never the same one. We always said we should've had another kid because it would have made things even."

Dad jokes that their sectional couch needs repairs from the constant horseplay, but that will happen when all three are out of the house. Until then, the three sons are working toward bringing Aledo its fourth state football championship and its first in a decade.

Each of them have a hand in the Golden Eagles' success, with the twins combining for 1,228 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns this season.

Jesse has 651 yards; Logan has 577.

Logan averages 7.9 yards per carry; Jesse gets 7.7.

Obviously, the identical twins are identical in their performance.

Then there's Zeke, who dad calls "the bigger little brother." Despite missing last year with a knee injury, Zeke seamlessly moved from tight end to tackle three weeks into the season to provide Mercer County with a key blocker.

"I do all the grunt work, you know," Zeke said.

During a 15-minute conversation with the three, that was the closest thing to trash talk.

The closeness in age and identical looks — even their voices sound similar — keep these three tight. There is a genuine bond and admiration between these brothers, something Zunkel sees as a reason why this team is so close.

Brothers will be brothers, but this group has far more good times together than bad.

"They have your backs," Logan said. "If you have trouble, you can ask them. They're always there for you."

Negative words rarely are spoken.

"At the end of the day, we're brothers," Logan said. "We know we have to get along."

At the same time, they are teammates.

That's something to be treasured.

"With all three of them on the field, we've got a lot at stake," Jason said. "We wouldn't trade it for the world. It's been one of the most awesome things."

Three brothers. Two running backs. One lineman.

One-fourth of the Mercer County offense.

"Special," Jason said. "That's why I'm at a loss at trying to describe it. Three? Totally awesome."