Grant Boerner and his identical twin brother Garrett share a particularly intense bond, and not just because they have the same genetic code.
The seniors at Manchester Valley High School grew up playing the same sports on the same teams since they were 4 years old and have continued to do so on the Mavericks’ football and lacrosse teams.
The 2019 lacrosse season was special for the brothers as they helped lead the Mavs to the Class 3A West Region Section 1 final, the program’s deepest playoff run.
“We call them the ‘Wonder Twins’ and they’ve had that nickname since sophomore year,” Mavs coach John Piper said. “They provided tremendous leadership, they’re great role models in terms of work ethic and getting stuff done. We plugged them in where we needed them and they would do whatever role needed to be done.
“They’re workhorses, they can be exhausted and say ‘Coach, I’m going back in.” Figuratively, they would run through a brick wall for their teammates.”
Garrett earned Times first-team all-county honors at midfield and Garrett made second team at attack. Garrett notched 15 goals and seven assists, and Grant led the team in scoring with 40 goals.
Grant is the Carroll County Athletic League’s top returning scorer, but his senior season remains on hold with schools closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“When I first heard about it, I thought it was really upsetting because, first off, not being able to play with your brother during your senior season … that’s what you went through all your life,” Grant Boerner said. “This happening really impacts a lot because you don’t get to finish your career out.
“You want your senior season to be your best in your high school career and it’s upsetting we can’t finish it off and finish off with a win.”
Grant and Garrett had their senior football seasons cut short after they each sustained an injury in a county clash Sept. 27 against South Carroll.
Garrett went up for a catch in the third quarter and his left knee twisted when he came down. He was helped to the sideline and was later diagnosed with an anterior cruciate ligament tear, an injury that takes 6-12 months for a full recovery.
Grant suffered his own setback a few plays later.
He kicked off for the Mavericks and then made a tackle, but his left shoulder popped out of place and he said he knew something was off. He popped it back into place, but didn’t return to the game for fear of risking more harm.
The diagnosis was a torn labrum and, in a matter of minutes, the brothers saw their senior football season come to an sudden finish.
They had their respective surgeries exactly two weeks apart — Grant on Oct. 31 and Garrett on Nov. 14. Grant spent four weeks with his arm in a sling and after successful physical therapy, was cleared on Feb. 26 to play lacrosse this spring.
Grant said Garrett’s recovery process will take at least another six months before he is fully recovered.
“It’s been pretty hard for me,” Garrett said. “I’ve had a few setbacks with my knee and it’s made everything longer after surgery. It’s been a very tough time for me not being able to do a lot of things and thinking back on my lacrosse season being over with for high school. The recovery process has been bad and good and I’m just trying to build that muscle back up.”
Piper brought the Boerners up to the varsity team when they were sophomores and he said the duo stood out, even when they were freshmen.
“They didn’t have any fear of who they were going up against,” Piper said. “As freshmen going up against seniors, some kids aren’t really ready for that mental part, but they wouldn’t back down from seniors. We held off from moving them up as freshmen and waited until they were bigger and stronger. They go at it 110% and that’s not something you can coach or teach.”
Grant and Garrett have their sights set on attending CCBC-Essex and playing college lacrosse, but Grant remains hopeful for the chance to play one more high school lacrosse season.
It just might feel a bit different without Garrett on the field with him.
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“It’s special because you grow that bond over being with each other and playing in the backyard to always having each other’s backs,” Grant said. “It’s a very fun feeling to always go out there with each other and to have him there.”