Twin Survivors Become Stars on High School Football’s Biggest Stage
Will and Wyatt Whatley are twin brothers and the star quarterback and receiver on Springdale’s football team. Their connection has been the highlight of the season so far, but it almost never happened. Will and Wyatt were born more than two months premature and they almost didn’t survive.
“The way the doctors were talking and everyone was talking I didn’t think they were going to make it,” said mother Perri Whatley. “In my mind I was thinking, I don’t want to remember this moment because it was too hard for me to handle and think about having babies and not being able to raise them.”
Perri and Mark Whatley weren’t expected their twins to be born so early. Hooked up to all sort of wires and tubes, every day was a gamble. The boys spent a month in the hospital, their condition in doubt the entire time.
“Both of their lungs had collapsed and there were some touch and go times quite often early into it,” said father Mark Whatley.
Will’s condition was so severe that the parents were prepared to say good bye to their son.
“I remember one night it was tough,” said Mark Whatley. “We didn’t know if one of them was going to make it, make the night or not.”
”He was trying to think, where are we going to bury him?” said Perri Whatley.
Doctors fought every day to keep the brothers alive. Once their condition improved they got to go home. That’s when the love of football took over. Their father Mark is the offensive coordinator at Springdale.
“They’ve been on the field with me since they could walk. They’ve been ball boys all through my career and so they’ve been around the game,” said Mark Whatley.
Now both senior starters in the best conference in Arkansas, every Friday night teams try to stop the Will to Wyatt connection.
“I definitely can tell when he`s going to catch it,” said Will Whatley. I can definitely tell when he`s going to catch the ball. Just when I throw to him, he’s catching it. I don’t know why, I just do.”
“We’ve had that trust with each other even when we were little. We were constantly trusting each other when we were getting in trouble,” said Wyatt Whatley. “I’d trust him to lift me up into the cabinet or something. Hopefully I wouldn’t fall. We`ve had a big bond and big trust for 18 years.”
Never was that bond more evident when the Whatley family was watching Football Friday Night a few weeks ago. Quarterback Will took a big hit and there was his brother, protecting his head from injury.
“I was laughing and I said ‘Wyatt what were you doing?’” said Perri Whatley. “’Why’d you run over there and pick up his head’ because it looked funny and he said nonchalant ‘I just didn`t want his head to get it.’”
Friday night their careers at Springdale will come to an end, disappointed they won’t make the playoffs, but so happy they got to experience such precious moments.
“Going through something like that with your child that you just got and watching them grow up to be successful young men, I bet it’s a blessing to go through,” said Wyatt Whatley.
“I don’t know what we’re going to have in store in the future, but it’s going to be very upsetting when I leave,” said Will Whatley. “I don’t know what he’s going to do but I’m going to miss it. I’m going to miss it a whole lot.”
“I want to be sure I can stay with him,” said Wyatt Whatley. “I don’t want to drift off from him either. I’ve been with him ever since I was born. It’s the only way I know, to have him as my best friend.”