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Coquitlam’s hulking football twins are double trouble for opponents — and their family’s grocery bill

The Zheng brothers have been playing football together since they were in Grade 5
William and Walter Zheng are hulking linemen for the Centennial Centaurs varsity football team. They're also twins.

Blocks and tackles by William and Walter Zheng are brought to you by Costco.

The twin brothers who play for the Centennial Centaurs varsity football team weigh in at 315 and 250 pounds respectively. So, it’s little wonder their parents, Sarah Wu and Tommy Zheng, head to the big box retailer twice a week to restock the refrigerator and pantry.

“We eat a lot at meals,” said Walter, a defensive tackle with an affinity for steak, potatoes and rice.

In fact, it was the twins’ impressive size even when they were younger that got them involved in football in the first place. In Grade 5 they already weighed 160 pounds and a coach at Coquitlam Minor Football suggested they try the game.

Their parents readily agreed, hoping the intense physical activity might temper the impressive appetites of their growing boys.

William and Walter said they took to football immediately. But instead of leaning them out, they kept growing. So their coach put them on the offensive and defensive lines.

Though Walter said he originally wanted to be a running back, he enjoys the hitting and tackling in the trenches.

“There’s no glory in the line,” he said. “But when you do something right, the coaches tell you.”

William, a right guard and nose tackle, said he likes being able to create holes for his teammates on the offence to break upfield while snuffing out drives when he plays defence.

“I’m tough. I’m strong. I can do my job,” he said.

Playing together through minor football and since Grade 9 at Centennial has cemented the Zheng twins’ brotherly bond.

“We can watch out for each other’s back,” said Walter.

Their coach all through high school, Dino Geremia, said the Zhengs seem to have an innate ability to know what the other is doing on the field.

“We know they have good communication,” he said. “We don’t have to worry about them.”

William said they often speak to each other in Chinese during a game, calling out for support, letting each other know their assignment without tipping off their opponents.

Well, except for one player on Vancouver College who understands them, he added.

The Zhengs also push each other. On and off the field.

During the season, William and Walter work out together in the garage of their Coquitlam home for two hours before school three days a week. In the off-season, they up their training regimen to six days a week.

William said he's stronger in the bench press, but Walter’s a faster runner.

“We motivate each other,” Walter said.

Sometimes, though, their competitive nature boils over, whether it’s reaching for the last Costco chocolate chip cookie or missing a tackle in practice.

“We get mad at each other,” William said.

But the hard feelings never last, Walter said. “We calm down, figure out what went wrong and learn from our mistake.”

Geremia said the twins’ work ethic is without equal. They’re always striving to get better, asking the coaches for extra work. And their gregarious natures make them a hit with teammates.

“They’re characters,” he said. “It’s really good to have them break the ice.”

Those qualities should help set up the Zhengs to continue their football careers at the post-secondary level. They’ve already had discussions with McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., but both William and Walter have their eyes on nearby Simon Fraser University (SFU).

To continue playing together would be the fulfilment of a dream.

“It’s something we can do together that we’ll always remember,” William said.

• Centennial plays crosstown rival Terry Fox Ravens Friday (Nov. 4) in the annual Coquitlam Bowl at the Centaurs' new turf field to conclude the varsity teams’ regular season schedule. The Ravens have won the last nine encounters, although the game wasn’t played in 2020 because of COVID-19 public health restrictions. Game time is 7p.m.