West Hall (6-4) at No. 8 Troup (8-2)
Gainesville (5-5) at No. 5 Harrison (9-1)
No. 2 Buford (9-1) vs. North Springs (6-4)
Chestatee (4-6) at No. 1 Cartersville (10-0)
No. 4 Jefferson (9-1) vs. Pickens (5-5)
North Hall (6-4) at No. 3 Westminster (8-2)
No. 8 Dawson County (7-2) vs. No. 9 Lovett (7-3)
All games start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8, per GHSA guidelines
Good luck trying to find A.J. and Ashun Favorite apart.
West Hall’s standout two-way football players are usually in close proximity to each other on the football field. The 18-year-old identical twins also have the same interests and friends and like to talk about the same things.
“Our bond is very tight,” said Ashun.
Close enough to say attached at the hip?
“Yes, definitely,” he added.
Both have played a huge role for West Hall (6-4) as it embarks on the opening round of the Class AAAA postseason, facing No. 8 Troup on Thursday in Lagrange.
The game was moved up a day due to a scheduling conflict with the stadium shared with Callaway High. Wearing game jerseys of the same color, it’s impossible to tell them apart. A.J. And Ashun have the same hair style and matching goatees. Their voices sound the same and can answer questions in unison without even being prompted.
A.J. and Ashun are both always wearing a welcoming smile, usually knowing generally what the other is feeling.
“It’s great having an identical twin,” said A.J., who said there is never an argument between the two youngest sons of Denise Daniel. A.J. and Ashun have an older brother, Antonio Sigmund.
The mother of the twins said her family members, including their grandmother and cousins, have trouble telling A.J. and Ashun apart. That’s why they simply use the singular term "twin" when trying to address the brothers.
Daniel is most pleased that through the years, the twins have maintained such a strong relationship.
“I’m just so proud of their bond,” said Daniel. “They’ve always been there for one another.”
On the football field, both the Favorite brothers are aggressive playmakers. This season, A.J. stood out with a 60-yard touchdown play against Chestatee, while Ashun had a critical interception for a touchdown against Dawson County.
Rarely does either leave the field during the game.
West Hall coach Tony Lotti has counted on his two players who are spitting images of one another to always be around the football, no matter the situation.
“A.J. and Ashun are just great kids and a joy to be around,” said Lotti about the first set of identical twins he’s ever coached. “It’s been fun to watch them mature into great young men.”
And the trust between A.J. and Ashun is limitless. On the field, Ashun knows he may not finish up a play with a tackle, but knows his hard-hitting brother will be there at safety to get the job done.
“I know where he is all the time on the field,” said Ashun.
Both are eager to play together in college. Ashun made it clear that it’s a package deal for prospective suitors.
“I had a coach ask if I could play without my brother, and I told him no,” Ashun said.
According to their mother, the two boys have rarely been separated. Daniel recalls when she was pregnant with the twins in 1998, they looked like "mirror images" in prenatal pictures.
Daniel was serving in the Army, stationed at Fort Bragg in N.C., and they were born in Chapel Hill, N.C. She moved to Walton County to be closer to family when her sons were young, before moving to Oakwood in 2009.
With colleges now on their minds, A.J. and Ashun are receiving interest from Campbell University, Furman University and the University of the Cumberlands, among others. They both spend their time cheering on the University of Georgia.
Lotti has coached the easy-going Favorite brothers long enough to always be on the lookout for a good-natured prank, such as trading clothes to have the coach confused. A.J. and Ashun said the best prank they pulled at school was swapping places in a math class freshman year. While all the students were in on the joke, the teacher had no idea until the brothers spilled the beans.
The academic proclivities are identical for both. A.J. and Ashun both enjoy the language arts, while disliking math equally.
So if they share so many traits — which is to be expected of identical twins — are there any true differences?
“I look better,” A.J. quipped.
And friends may be able to tell them apart by the clothes, too.
“I like to dress up more,” said A.J. “I like to wear the skinny jeans and long-cut shirts.”
“Gym shorts and sweats for me,” said Ashun.
Both are hoping this playoff journey lasts as long as possible. A.J. and Ashun have both relished being part of a school-record four consecutive seasons making the postseason with West Hall.
“This entire team has worked so hard and is just one big brotherhood,” said A.J.