Gridiron finale for the twins

Growing up as identical twins, brothers Josh and Nathan Howells have shared much in common, especially on the football field.

Both stand six feet, four inches tall, with Josh weighing 260 pounds and Nathan weighing 250 pounds.

Both achieved perfect 4.0 grade-point averages at Hollidaysburg Area High School, and both will attend Penn State University this fall, where both will pursue a double major in biology and business administration.

Josh was a three-year starter at offensive guard for the Golden Tigers, while Nathan played right alongside him as a three-year starter at offensive tackle.

And both will be playing in their last competitive football game together when they line up on the offensive front for the West team in the Pennsylvania State Football Coaches Association’s East-West All-Star Game today at 2 p.m. at Mansion Park.

Donning the pads for the final time today as teammates and brothers will be a bittersweet experience, Josh said.

“It is bittersweet, knowing that I won’t be playing at the next level,” Josh said. “But I’m excited to play one more game, and I’m looking forward to it.”

So is Nathan.

“It’s the same way for me, being able to put on the pads one more time,” Nathan said. “I’m looking forward to the contact, being able to hit somebody again. It’s pretty exciting to go out with a bang in this all-star game.”

The Howells twins will be among five players from the Mirror coverage area who will be on the West roster in today’s game.

The others will be Tyrone’s Denver Light, who has signed with Penn State as a preferred walk-on linebacker, State College quarterback Tommy Friberg, who is also headed to Penn State, and State College defensive back Tom Bucha, who will play on the Division II level at Bloomsburg University.

Efforts by the Mirror to reach Light, Friberg and Bucha for this story were unsuccessful.

Josh Howells feels honored to be playing in today’s game.

“It’s a great honor to represent our school in such a prestigious game,” Josh said. “Some of the best players in Pennsylvania will be playing in this game. I’m very proud, and very excited.”

Nathan expressed similar sentiments.

“I’m really excited as well,” Nathan said. “It’s a great time for everybody to showcase their abilities, and for us to represent Hollidaysburg and the great program that our coach, Homer DeLattre, has created over the past several years. That is pretty exciting.”

Playing side-by-side one last time is an experience that the Howells brothers will cherish as well.

“I’ve played next to him all three years of my high school career,” Josh said of Nathan. “I was always next to him on every play and in every game. It would definitely be weird playing without him. This game is a great thing to experience with him.”

Nathan agreed.

“I feel the same way,” Nathan said. “We’ve had so much experience playing beside each other, and being able to experience that in our last game together is something that will never happen again, and it will be exciting for me to be able to do that with him.”

The Howells brothers are both thankful for everybody who has helped them along the way.

“I’d just like to thank everybody who has supported me and my brother throughout our career,” Nathan said. “We’re very thankful for the opportunity to play in this game.”