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Football: Harnig twins keep Riverhead coach guessing

Riverhead football players Adam and Kyle Harnig 102516

Adam and Kyle Harnig are fraternal twins, not identical twins, but the two brothers look an awful lot alike. So much so that it can be difficult to differentiate between the two.

Just ask Riverhead High School football coach Leif Shay.

The Harnigs have risen through the ranks together as teammates, first in the Police Athletic League, then middle school, then junior varsity and now with the Riverhead varsity team. They both play wide receiver and defensive back, share similar playing styles and, yes, look alike.

So much so that Shay said he never seems to get it right, calling Adam Kyle and Kyle Adam.

“I always call them the wrong name every time, and the law of averages says that you have to get it right 50 percent of the time,” Shay said. “I think they mess with me. I think they always say I get it wrong. … There’s no way I could be a hundred percent wrong every time. I think they’re messing with me.”

Of course, with their uniforms on, they’re easier to identify. Adam wears No. 89 and Kyle No. 14. Both were among the 15 Riverhead seniors who marched onto Coach Mike McKillop Memorial Field during a pregame Senior Day ceremony prior to Saturday’s 26-6 loss to Half Hollow Hills West. They were joined by their parents, Brad and Christine, and their younger brother, Aidan.

“It was just like, wow, this is it,” Adam said. “This is the last home game. I’ll never be able to do this again. There’s no tomorrow or next week.”

Well, there is actually. The Blue Waves will close out their season Saturday at Centereach.

The Harnigs, both in their second varsity season, have enjoyed their time playing for Riverhead.

“It was a ride, a roller coaster,” Kyle said. “It was amazing. It was the best time I ever had in my life.”

Adam, who also wrestles, said: “It’s been amazing. It was worth all that time.”

Shay, who cannot recall having twins on the team before during his 19 years as Riverhead’s coach, said the Harnigs have paid their dues.

“They’re great kids,” he said. “They show up every day. They work as hard as they can. They’ve developed and gotten better over the years. They’re great to have on the team.”

Of course, there is that one issue.

“Four years I can’t get the names right,” Shay said. “At least now Adam has a little longer hair. When they have their helmets on, it doesn’t help.”

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Photo caption: The Harnig family during Saturday’s Senior Day ceremony, from left: Brad, Adam, Kyle, Christine and Aidan. (Credit: Bob Liepa)