Tumwater’s twins are double trouble for T-Bird football opponents


tumwater footballBy Gail Wood


They’re like live-in personal trainers, that pestering someone to always push them to do one last pushup, one last sprint down the track.

But that same person they’ve shared a room with for most of their lives isn’t just a prodding voice. They’re a brother, that sleepover friend who has been a mix of buddy and rival.

And they’re not just brothers, they’re twins. The Hinkles and Burbidges have been prodding and pushing each other their entire lives, helping them get the most out of their brains and brawn.

These two sets of twins make up a big chunk of the starting lineup for the Tumwater Thunderbirds, the reigning 2A state football champs.

“There’s no question we push each other,” said Daniel Hinkle, brother and friend to Brennan. “We’re always competing. It doesn’t matter what.”

Once, while they were still in grade school, the Hinkle brothers had a one-on-one football challenge in the snow. It lasted three hours.

“We had a snow bowl,” Daniel said. “We dug out a field and played one-on-one. We wouldn’t quit.”

The Burbidge twins – Hunter and Tyler – don’t just share a similar face (they aren’t identical twins). They’re also both linemen, starting guards. They wear No. 58 and 59 jerseys. Neither Burbidge is big – Hunter is 5-foot-11 and Tyler is 5-10. But both play with this gritty determination.

“They’re short and stocky,” said Jamie Weeks, the Thunderbirds offensive coordinator. “They don’t have the size, but they make up for it in speed and technique.”

The Burbidges, who were a little bigger than everyone else back in elementary school, have been linemen from their first practice in second grade.

“We both love it,” Hunter said. “In our offense, it’s awesome. You’re always pulling.”

Misdirection is the secret to the Wing-T, Tumwater’s crafty, explosive offense that helped the T-Birds go 12-1 last season and win a league and state championship. Breaking loose for the long, 50-yard touchdown romp is part of the offense.

“Our goal every game is to get eight explosive running backs and four explosive passing plays,” Weeks said.

T-Bird head coach Sid Otton got his first glimpse at this year’s starting guards 17 years ago. Shortly after the Burbidges were born, Otton gave the newborn’s mom and dad a visit in the hospital. It was just before the 1994 state quarterfinals in football, a place the Burbidge twins helped their coach get back to last year. Otton handed the parents 20 dollars as a gift.

“He gave my mom the money and said to make sure they come to Tumwater,” Tyler said with a laugh.

The Hinkles and Burbidges have played on the same football team since third grade. So have most of the T-Birds senior class.

“The Burbidges used to look identical when they were little,” Brennan said with a chuckle. “They both had pudgy faces and big glasses.”

The pudginess and glasses are gone.  Replaced by muscles and contacts. From grade school to high school, the Burbidges and Hinkles have been teammates, linked by blood and sweat. The Burbidges often go one-on-one in blocking drills in practice.

Having a twin brother on the field works as a motivation.

“Last year Brennan always did a good job of not only pumping me up, but he pumped up the whole team,” Daniel said. “A lot of times, I’m on the sidelines zoned in. I don’t talk a lot. I’m focused on the game. Whenever I do something good, he’s always there to congratulate me. He’s always got my back.”

Unless the team is scrimmaging. Brennan, who is starting at defensive end for the first time this season, is always trying to rush his brother and put pressure on him.

“I don’t get to hit the quarterback as much as I’d like,” Brennan said. “Quarterbacks are off limits in scrimmages. All I do is raze him if I get by him. But I never want to hurt him.”

Daniel isn’t the first Hinkle to quarterback an Otton-coached T-Bird team. His older brother, Robbie, was the T-Birds starting quarterback three years ago during Daniel and Brennan’s freshman year. Last season as a junior, Daniel, in his first full season as the starting quarterback, threw for 1,400 yards. He tossed 23 touchdowns with only two interceptions.

Two of Daniel’s favorite targets – halfback Ronnie Hastie and tight end Zach Wimberly – are back for their senior seasons. Wimberly, at 6-foot-3, had 27 receptions for 587 yards and eight touchdowns. Hastie, a 5-11, 185-pound running back, rushed for 918 yards, averaging 8.3 yards per carry. As a linebacker, Hastie also finished with 42 tackles.

Two other key players back on defense are Jamie Bryant and Riley Prentice, a virtual tackle machine. Prentice, a 5-foot-10, 175 pound linebacker, had 131 tackles last season as a junior. Bryant, a sturdy 6-foot-5, 270-pound junior, returns at nose tackle and is a major college prospect. Otton said Bryant has already been offered a scholarship from the University of Washington.

Now, the Hinkles and Burbidges will be teammates for one last season. Each brother pushing each other one last time, chasing another state title.

“We always know we’re going to go as hard as we can,” Tyler said about his brother. “It makes you 100 times better. It’s been a lot of fun.”

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