Bel Air's Berry twins pass, catch, think, win

High Schools

September 09, 2004|By MILTON KENT

THEY can't be that good.

It's OK if you think that about Andrew and Adam Berry, the senior quarterback and wide receiver duo at Bel Air High. What else could you think about identical twins who are gifted athletically, brainy enough to have practically the entire Ivy League clamoring after them, popular enough to win school-wide elections and at home with their folks at 9 p.m. on a holiday weekend night?

The trouble is, while you're thinking that Andrew, the cool left-handed quarterback, and Adam, the solid receiver, can't be that impressive, they're out there impressing you.

"They're really that good," said Bel Air coach Bruce Riley. "And as good as they are [in the classroom], they push themselves to the fullest extreme athletically. They're the best they can be. And this is the true mark of a leader for us as coaches: Their presence alone heightens the intensity and the degree of effort that the other kids give. They are that good. And words can't explain how good they are."

Actually, some words can. Adam, the one with braces, was a first-team All-Metro selection last year, catching 29 passes for 336 yards and 10 touchdowns. Andrew, who wears his hair braided in cornrows, was a second-team All-Metro choice, racking up nearly 2,000 yards in passing and running and tossing 20 touchdown passes.

This season, the Berry twins, each 5 feet 10, having added 50 pounds of mostly muscle since entering high school, have dedicated themselves to getting even better. They each went to four camps this summer and ran pass patterns with teammates, all independent of coaches.

The extra work is to make up for the only real blemish on last year's season, which included Bel Air's first win in the state playoffs. The Bobcats, however, dropped an 18-15 decision to Randallstown in the 3A North regional final, and they've come back devoted to going further.

"It was good to win that playoff game, but we think we can win a state title, and we're going to do what we can to make that happen," Adam Berry said.

That bonus effort paid off handsomely in Friday's season opener, where the ninth-ranked Bobcats breezed to a 55-0 win over Dundalk, with Andrew running for two scores and throwing a touchdown pass to Adam for 36 yards. With 16 starters returning, Bel Air has every reason to believe it can win.

Whatever competition the Berrys get on the field can't match the competition they wage against themselves, albeit brotherly. They both have 4.24 grade-point averages and are tied for first in their class. Bel Air teachers help stoke their competition by jokingly letting one know about a test score, knowing the other will work harder to match or beat the score.

Once, Adam, the senior class president, had a 70-point lead on Andrew, the vice president of the National Honor Society chapter, on SAT scores, but that was before they retook the test. Adam made up the 70 points, and they each now have a 1,430 - 170 points shy of perfect.

"If you can beat your brother, you can beat anyone," Adam said.

This competition has been going on since they were growing up in Texas, where their dad, Drew, now vice president and general manager of WMAR television, would throw passes in the back yard at halftime of Dallas Cowboys games, Andrew at receiver and Adam at defensive back.

They've been keeping a notebook on each other's behavior, as siblings will do. Adam complains that his brother, older by a minute, instigates fights.

The day may come when their competition won't be so friendly. The two are being recruited by all the Ivy League schools, save for Brown, and they haven't ruled out going to different schools and being separated for the first time in their lives.

"I think it [separation] will be more different than hard," Andrew said. "But through hardships and challenges, that's when true character is tested, and that's when you find out who you are."

Who the Berrys are is pretty good, better than you think they could be.

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