From the gridiron to the hardwood to the diamond, Chillicothe Huntington’s twin brothers Joshua and Justin Kellough have always loved to play sports. And the seniors have always loved wearing the Green and White when doing it.
Shayne Combs checks in with a feature on two truly gifted brothers.
This duo got an early start in learning how to play sports. The two were no more walking before they started leading the Huntington basketball teams out of the tunnel. With their father Todd Kellough coaching in the Huntington High School basketball program, Joshua and Justin constantly had a ball in their hands and they could usually be found right in the middle of most practice drills or warm-ups on game nights.
You do not have to look far to see where the boys get their love for sports…and their ability for that matter. Todd was a fine athlete for Huntington in the 80s. While wearing the Green and White he starred in multiple sports.
As the boys approach the end of their high school careers they both have aspirations of continuing to play together at the next level. After that, they both admit that sports will continue to play a big role in their lives.
“I would love to be able to play in college with Josh, but if not I would at least like to go with him and be a graduate assistant,” Justin said. “I definitely want to get into coaching, and I think that would be a great opportunity.”
The future plans are in the process of being set for the long term, but these fine student-athletes that both rank in the top one-third of their senior class academically, have a few short term goals in sight first.
“I just want to win,” Joshua said of his senior year. “I feel like all the other stuff will fall into place. If our team continues to work hard I think we can accomplish some great things throughout the season.”
With Joshua being the reigning POY in the Scioto Valley Conference and Justin being all-league as well, many consider Huntington one of the top teams in southeast Ohio. Through all the love of sports for the Kelloughs, basketball has always been the favorite, and winning a championship of any kind would be a great way to finish off a wonderful career in sports. The Huntsmen are heavy favorites to repeat as sectional champions – Joshua and Justin combined for 48 points in last year’s title game – and return to the Convo in Athens for the district and hopefully regional tournaments.
“It’s the best,” said Justin when asked what it was like to play with his twin brother. “When you’re out there on the floor everyone has teammates, but for me it’s like there’s another me. I know him so well, and he knows me so well. It really is a neat feeling that I wouldn’t trade for anything.”
“It’s an incredible thing,” said Joshua in response to the same question. “It makes it nice to do all these things together.”
The twins are not identical in looks and many fans that watch them play would probably categorize them a little differently as well. Joshua is a highlight maker. He is an instinctive athlete that has that unique ability to have his coach burying his face in his hands one minute and smiling the next. He has that distinctive aptitude to turn a broken play into an impossible long touchdown run or a game-winning jump shot. The quarterback, point guard, and centerfielder is a clutch performer that loves nothing else than to have the game on the line and the ball in his hands.
Over the past couple of years, Joshua has given Huntington fans more than one example of this competitive drive. Perhaps some would feel his fourth quarter comeback from two scores down against Zane Trace – when he ran for 270 yards, threw for another 185, and accounted for four Huntington touchdowns, including the game winning toss on the final play of the game – was his best magical act. Maybe you liked his sweet rainbow jumper last winter on the road to beat the eventual SVC champion Southeastern squad that sparked Huntington to a perfect second round in conference play. Nonetheless, if you are a fan cheering for him or if you are in the opposing crowd frustrated to no end because your team cannot stop him, the fact is Joshua Kellough is one of those athletes that you stop and watch every time he touches the ball because you get a sense that he is going to make a special play.
“I have always said that something is going to happen when Josh has his hands on the ball,” said Huntington basketball coach Rick Uhrig. “Josh is a special talent that you hate to put too many restrictions on because you know the good is going to outweigh the bad. The perfect example is the game-winning shot at Southeastern. That wasn’t quite the way we talked about it in the huddle, but Josh was determined he was going to make a play.”
On the other hand, Justin is a fundamentally-sound coach’s dream that is always in the proper spot and rarely makes a poor decision. His high sports IQ helps make him a great athlete and a great leader. Justin’s intangibles go far beyond the stat sheet. He is a coach on the field or floor that makes everybody around him that much better. Justin is a kid that can score 30 one night when his team needs the extra scoring, or can stuff every positive category on the stat sheet. He will have plenty of three-for-four nights at the plate with a few runs batted in, but even on the nights he struggles with the bat, he is most likely to record several putouts in the field or hit behind a runner to set up a rally.
“Justin is a tremendous young man and a pleasure to coach,” said former Huntington baseball coach Jeff Zickafoose who now is the head baseball coach at Frankfort Adena. “He is fundamentally sound and has a great attitude. He was always so versatile and willing to play wherever I needed him to make the team better. He and Josh both are the types of kids you really miss because you do not get a chance to coach those types very often.”
Fans love to look at these characteristics of the Kellough twins because these are the unique things that make them not so identical; however, both of these fine student-athletes can change roles when needed. Even as an improviser, Josh is still a fine decision maker. As a signal-caller in the fall he has completed over 50% of his passes during his four-year career, and as the floor-general on the hardwood, Josh has consistently been amongst the assist leaders in southern Ohio as a point guard that has started since game one of his freshman season – a season in which Josh started and played nearly 32 minutes a night for a SVC championship squad. Add those impressive totals to his incredible ability during the spring covering gap to gap as one of the area’s best centerfielders, and you not only have one the most electric performers, but one that also shows great sports knowledge of his own.
Justin can make the same argument for himself. Although he may not provide the SportsCenter footage on a nightly basis, do not make the mistake of underestimating his ability to make plays. Justin averaged 12 points per game in basketball as a junior and after missing most of his junior season of football due to injury he returned to the field as a senior to produce over 14 yards per reception. Justin has also started from day one of his freshman year on the diamond in the spring where he is a career .331 hitter and plays a variety of defensive positions for the Huntsmen baseball program. Justin has also shown the ability to play his best when the stage is the biggest and the brightest. For example, after averaging 12 ppg. during last year’s regular season, Justin’s average climbed to nearly 20 ppg. in the postseason.
“It is really neat for me to watch how their basketball instincts and their feel for one another work together so well on the floor,” said Frankfort Adena basketball coach Lou Postage who knows something about twins and then some as he and his wife Lori have quadruplets – two boys, two girls. “I know their father Todd was a great player and does a great job as a coach. Kids who grow up around the gym have instincts that you just can’t coach. I see it with my little ones now at a young age, and you see it with Josh and Justin. They are both extremely difficult to coach against because they do so many things that you just can’t coach.”
Joshua and Justin had an impact on Huntington programs from day one of their high school careers.
Josh earned District Honorable Mention as a freshman in football after picking off seven passes that year and returning a kickoff for a touchdown. From his sophomore year on, Joshua has been a mainstay on just about every All-SVC and All-District team in every sport he has played. Last year as a junior he was named first-team all-conference and All-District in football and then earned SVC Player of the Year in basketball while being selected Special Mention All-Ohio. Joshua scored 829 points in his first three varsity seasons making him a near lock to score one-thousand points.
Now a senior, Joshua has already captured the SVC Co-Offensive Back of the Year in football to cap off a career that included a school-record of 17 interceptions, 46 total touchdowns, and 4,505 all-purpose yards, and is the frontrunner to repeat as POY in basketball. Baseball is suppose to be his third best sport, but his .325 career batting average and gold-glove level centerfield play would fit just nicely in most high school lineups.
Justin has had his share of individual success as well.
Justin was an all-league selection in baseball as a freshman and has remained consistent throughout his career. He earned district recognition in football as a sophomore and returned as a senior to receive all-league recognition again as he led the team in receptions (40) and touchdowns (8). He also led the team in tackles with 91 while forcing three fumbles and recovering another on the defensive side of the ball. Justin’s impact in the basketball program really started to take notice last season as a junior when he was named to the SVC’s third-team, and most coaches and fans consider him a top-five player in this year’s Scioto Valley Conference.
“Joshua and Justin are tremendous young men with high character,” said Huntington football coach Ferdie Marquez. “They are fine athletes and a pleasure to coach. They both have great knowledge and they always represent their school in a positive way.”
Through all the individual awards, the winning on the hardwood seems to be the thing that sticks out when talking about the Kellough brothers.
Huntington basketball is 47-18 in the first three high school seasons of Joshua and Justin, and Huntington has won a SVC title, two sectional titles, and was District Runner-Up last season losing to Wheelersburg in the district finals. The twin brothers combined to score 30 points, pull down 11 rebounds, and dish out nine assists during their junior season making it obvious why many people are paying close attention to Huntington this season.
“They are high character guys that are extremely competitive in sports and life. It says a lot about their upbringing,” Zickafoose said. “Both Justin and Josh are going to be successful at whatever they do.”
They already are.