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News / Sports / Prep Sports

On gridiron, court or track, Prairie’s Dixson twins compete as one

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer
Published: September 19, 2019, 9:47pm
4 Photos
Prairie?s Zeke Dixson, left, and AJ Dixson, pose for a press photo at Prairie High School on Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 18, 2019.
Prairie?s Zeke Dixson, left, and AJ Dixson, pose for a press photo at Prairie High School on Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 18, 2019. ( (Nathan Howard/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

BRUSH PRAIRIE — AJ and Zeke Dixson are identical twins in more than looks.

They have the same friendship circle and academic course load. There isn’t one sport they’ve played separately.

When Zeke’s broken ankle kept him out of football in eighth grade, AJ sat out, too.

Therein lies the problem for opponents of Prairie High School’s football team. The Dixsons, seniors for the Falcons, are together on the field, too.

At quarterback, AJ Dixson has eight touchdown passes in the first two games and a 66-yard TD run.

Zeke Dixson starts at receiver and safety and also is a return specialist. He had a 79-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the team’s season-opening win over Parkrose of Portland.

Born together, and teammates forever.

“We wouldn’t be where we are without each other,” said Zeke, the older twin by 2 minutes. “We wouldn’t be shining without each other.

“If it was just one of us, we’d be an average player.”

The Falcons (2-0) face Black Hills of Tumwater, a 2A state quarterfinal in 2018, Friday at Tumwater District Stadium. No Prairie team in the past 20 years has started a season 3-0.

More times than not, telling the twins apart can be a game within itself. AJ is slightly taller, but believes it’s only a matter of time before Zeke catches up.

AJ always has been a skill-position player, but not so for Zeke. In middle school, Zeke’s size pegged him as a lineman. That lasted one year.

But both became impact varsity players their sophomore seasons when head coach Mike Peck was Prairie’s offensive coordinator. Both Dixsons played receiver on offense.

AJ has since transitioned to quarterback and is one of two returning starters league-wide at the position.

But the brothers’ competitiveness hasn’t wavered. Being twins, they say, provides a natural connection and a special bond that stretches in sports and beyond.

Call it a twintuition. Subtle, non-verbal cues are all that’s needed for something positive to happen. Even the tiniest thing.

“It’s cool; it happens every day,” AJ said. “… It’s a feeling. You’ve known this person your whole life. You create habits with this person.

“It’s like that for (us), but for our whole entire life.”

The Dixsons are the youngest of Patrick and Beth’s six children, and credit their spark for sports in part by watching their four older sisters — Chesi, Gabi, Lexi and Tori — compete in multiple sports for Battle Ground. Gabi, an NAIA national track and field champion at Concordia (Ore.), is now a professional rugby player in New Zealand.

And like their sisters, the brothers are homeschooled. They take three classes at Prairie as part-time students, and two classes at their homebase school, River HomeLink, Battle Ground Public Schools’ alternative K-12 school. Math is taught at home by their mom,.

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The characteristics they’ve learned competing for Prairie in three sports spills over daily to River HomeLink’s student population.

Being role models and leaders on the field — as much as off it — is a big one, AJ said.

“You have to lead by example there, too,” he said.

That’s where Peck, now in his second season as the Falcons’ head coach, has seen major growth in the Dixsons. They’ve become two of the program’s leaders, the coach said.

“Not just by action or verbal — it’s both,” Peck said. “They back it up. They set the tone for the program with who they are, and it’s really cool to see.”

As juniors, the Dixsons helped Prairie soar by getting the football program to the postseason for just the second time in 20 seasons in 2018. In basketball, they helped win the school’s first bi-district title in longtime coach Kyle Brooks tenure.And in track, the two ran the middle legs of the 4×100 relay team that placed second at state in May.

Everything is a competition, the twins say. And it makes each other better for it.

“There’s not one thing that’s not a competition between (us),” Zeke said. “We know when to step it up.”

Added AJ: “We’ve been pushing each other since the day we started sports.”