Cody and Cole Silzer are twins who are getting more identical every year.
“People said as we’ve grown older we look more alike,” Cody said.
It used to be Cole had shorter hair, but, Cody said, “it’s kind of developed into the same haircut.”
That is not the only similarity between the brothers, who are two big reasons Lockport football is relevant again after a long drought.
The Porters beat Homewood-Flossmoor for the first time since 2009 in Week 4 and started 4-0 for the first time since 2004. They’re also looking for their first trip to the playoffs since 2016 and their first postseason victory since 2011.
If those items get checked off the to-do list, a good chunk of credit likely will go to the Silzers, 6-3, 250-pounders who anchor the Porters’ defensive line along with Andrew Blackburn-Forst.
George Czart took over as Lockport coach in 2019, when the Silzers were sophomores. He remembers watching them play baseball and thinking, “I’d love to see them in the weight room.”
Not that they were ever smaller than their peers. When they started playing youth football as 7-year-olds, they wound up in the tackle division. “We were too big to play flag,” Cole said.
Originally offensive linemen, the Silzers moved across the line after Czart arrived. At first they were both ends. Cole still plays end, with Blackburn-Forst — a defending state champion wrestler — next to him at nose tackle and then Cody at the other tackle.
What makes the Silzers special?
“They’re strong,” Czart said. “When they squat, they have full range of motion. They’re athletic and dynamic in their movement. And they have the mental edge, They want to be the best.”
All of those attributes help them get on college recruiters’ radar. They did the camp circuit after the spring season and had a few offers. The ones that stood out were from Eastern Illinois, which the brothers will be attending as a package deal.
“We’re happy about it,” Cole said. “Now my parents won’t have to go to two college games (every weekend).”
It’ll be nice to have a continuing return to normalcy for the Silzers, who — like everyone else — had their routines disrupted by the pandemic.
While many athletes had to improvise with school weight rooms and fitness centers off limits for months, the Silzers were able to keep working out and didn’t have to do it alone.
“It’s cool,” Cody said. “We always have a partner. We have someone to push each other with.”
There’s no shortage of motivation for the Silzers or their teammates, from the desire to bring back the glory days of a program that won back-to-back state titles in 2002-03 to one of the state’s biggest and most supportive fan bases.
The Silzers were at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb as freshmen in 2018 when Lockport played in the Preseason Prep Bowl in front of a huge crowd of supporters. The Porters lost 38-7 to Providence and finished 0-9, but Czart arrived the next year and the turnaround began.
Lockport went 4-5 in 2019 and 4-2 in the spring season, when Czart could tell good times were right around the corner.
“We just saw how good (the Silzers and other returning players) were last year as juniors,” Czart said. “People don’t know how good we’re going to be.”
Now the secret is out and Lockport fans are loving it.
“It’s crazy how many people show up at our home games,” Cody said.
“It does hype you up,” Cole added. “You don’t want to disappoint them.”
So far, there’s been no hint of that happening.