Prep Football

Cedar Rapids Jefferson twins Jacob and Gabe Coyle have different styles, same goal

J-Hawks looking to improve on 1-8 campaign

Cedar Rapids Jefferson's Jacob Coyle scrambles during a game against Cedar Rapids Washington last season at Kingston Stadium. (Justin Torner/Freelance)
Cedar Rapids Jefferson's Jacob Coyle scrambles during a game against Cedar Rapids Washington last season at Kingston Stadium. (Justin Torner/Freelance)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — They don’t look alike or act the same.

They even bring their own style to the football field.

But Cedar Rapids Jefferson fraternal twin brothers Jacob and Gabe Coyle share an identical passion for football and desire to boost the J-Hawk program.

Jacob is cerebral and composed as the J-Hawks’ signal caller. Gabe is a more outgoing and energetic defender.

“I like to keep my cool at times, not show a ton of emotion, but at times, that gets the best of you,” Jacob Coyle said. “I like to stay relaxed on the field when I can, but definitely get excited when things happen.

“I think Gabe plays with a lot of heart and passion for the team, as we all do.”

The duo is among five senior captains expected to help Jefferson improve on last year’s 1-8 finish. The J-Hawks open the season against Metro rival Cedar Rapids Kennedy on Aug. 30 at renovated Kingston Stadium.

Jacob split time under center last season, leading the J-Hawks with 478 passing yards and adding 165 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Gabe tied for second on the team with 50 1/2 tackles, including five solo tackles for loss.

“It’s funny how different their personalities are,” second-year Jefferson head coach Chris Buesing said. “Jacob is like how you would picture a quarterback. He’s calm, a thinker and more introverted. He is the steady-as-it-goes leader of the offense.

“Gabe is always joking around. He’s got long hair. He’s out there flying around and hitting people.”

The personalities contrast off the field, as well.

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“I’m more of the jokester in the family,” Gabe said. “Sometimes he gets a little overwhelmed with me, I guess.”

The Coyles started playing catch together in the yard until organized flag football began in elementary school. Both have been a part of a close group of Jefferson seniors who have played together since their Metro Youth Football Association days.

“We started with the same passion,” Gabe Coyle said. “I probably grew into loving the sport more, but he has a strong passion for it, too.”

Having someone the same age with a similar skill set has benefits. They were able to work together. A good-natured sibling rivalry pushed both.

“I never want to come in second to my brother, but it’s good to see him have success of his own,” Jacob said. “Even off the field, we’re competitive in about everything we do. It’s good to have that aspect in your everyday life. It keeps you accountable and in check.”

Jacob and Gabe teamed up in the J-Hawk pass game last season. Gabe is the top returning receiver, tallying 160 yards on 13 catches.

They have come a long way since creating plays and tossing the ball around in the yard.

“It’s cool,” Gabe said. “I feel like I have more of a connection with him than I have with any other quarterback I would have. I feel he is able to read what routes I’m running.”

Buesing has seen a more hard-nosed defense in the preseason and that will be a key this fall.

Kenny Moore and Jacob Thompson also are captains. Moore returns with a team-high 73 tackles. Thompson matched Gabe Coyle in stops and led the team with nine solo tackles for loss.

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“I feel like we’ve been pushing ourselves to be more physical throughout the year,” Gabe said. “It has to be our mentality.”

Thompson also led the J-Hawks with 352 rushing yards and five TDs. Led by captain Max Madsen, last year’s young and undersized offensive line has made strides. Jefferson had one lineman over 220 pounds last year. Now, three interior linemen are around 240.

“That is a big improvement,” Buesing said. “Our guys have done a good job buying into that.”

Jefferson is looking for its first winning season since a 7-4 mark in 2015, which was the last of two straight playoff appearances. Jacob Coyle said the J-Hawks have to focus on basics and execute in games.

“I’m excited to see what we can make happen,” Jacob said. “We have the guys to do it. We just have to put it all together.”

Cedar Rapids Jefferson J-Hawks

Coach: Chris Buesing (second season, 1-8)

Last year: 1-8

Top returners: QB Jacob Coyle, RB/DB Ezeki Leggins, RB/LB Jacob Thompson, LB/TE Kenny Moore LB/DB/WR Gabe Coyle, OL/DL Max Madsen, OL Jackson Stone, OL Jacob Bean, OL Mason Long, OL Noah Dukes, DL Dawson Sweet, OL/DL Tytan Meyers, DB DeMarco Smith, LB Josiah Szabo, TE/DL Ashton Schulte, DL Justen Dostal, K Jacob Cross

Keys to making the playoffs: The J-Hawks will need make huge gains from the last few seasons. A stingy, physical defense and improved line play will be necessary.

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Games to watch: Sept. 6 against Muscatine could be a good measuring stick. Sept. 27 at Waterloo West is the J-Hawks’ only game away from southwest Cedar Rapids and is a must-win.

Schedule

Aug. 30 — at No. 9 Cedar Rapids Kennedy

Sept. 6 — Muscatine

Sept. 12 — Linn-Mar

Sept. 20 — at Cedar Rapids Washington

Sept. 27 — at Waterloo West

Oct. 3 — No. 3 Cedar Falls

Oct. 11 — at Cedar Rapids Prairie

Oct. 18 — Dubuque Hempstead

Oct. 25 — Dubuque Senior

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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