Their father, Roger, was a starter on the offensive line on the first state championship team Alcoa ever had.
Roger Robinson’s 1977 championship season was one spent opening holes for running back Greg Osborne and blocking for quarterback Andre Earls. Receivers Tommy Wimbley and Steven Sudderth were the other big names that year.
Roger, now the fire chief in Alcoa, never got his name in the paper. Because of him and others like him, Alcoa became a state champion for the first time.
Last Friday in Cookeville, Robinson looked on from the stands at Tennessee Tech’s Tucker Stadium as his twin sons, Daniel and Nathaniel Robinson, both played key roles as Alcoa won a record-tying 11th state crown, equaling the mark set by arch-rival Maryville two years prior.
The 21-0 shutout of Milan earned Alcoa an unprecedented sixth consecutive title.
The Tornadoes became the only TSSAA school to win five in a row a year ago.
Nathaniel and Daniel Robinson have been there for each of the last four, finishing this their senior season an unbeaten 15-0.
This year was sweeter for Roger and wife, Traci, but not simply because their sons had been a big part of this one.
Nathaniel scooped up a fumble and returned it 15 yards to the Milan 5-yard line late in the first quarter. Alcoa record-setting tailback JaRon Toney made it 14-0 Tornadoes three plays later.
A senior linebacker, Nathaniel Robinson finished with a statistical line of five tackles, including a sack for 5 yards and three tackles for loss totaling 9 yards. Alcoa limited a Milan offense that entered averaging 39 points per game to 88 yards rushing on 46 attempts.
“We knew they going to run it,” Nathaniel said. “We weren’t going to let ’em.”
With Milan on the move early in the fourth quarter, Daniel Robinson, a senior defensive back, picked off a Bulldog pass at the Alcoa 29. Alcoa’s beefy offense kicked it in from there, marching 71 yards in 12 plays put it away, Toney scoring his state-record 52nd touchdown with four minutes remaining to put it out of reach.
Daniel Robinson’s big day finished with six tackles, a sack for 5 yards, a tackle for loss for 5 yards and the interception.
On a day the Alcoa defense was the big story, Daniel and Nathaniel finished right next to each other in tackles, fifth and sixth, respectively, among Tornadoes. Fellow senior Deontra Herbert cut down 13 Milan ball carriers in winning defensive most valuable player honors.
“We knew what they were going to do, and we just came out and executed,” Daniel Robinson said. “I just kept telling the offensive line to keep pounding it.”
Any parent would feel pride to see their sons play so well in their final high school game. For Tracy and Roger Robinson, it was something a little deeper.
They grew up in Alcoa. They went to school there. They graduated from Alcoa High School and married not long after.
A volunteer his senior year in high school, Roger joined the fire department fulltime after graduation. In 2007, he was named chief.
When your dad’s done all that and played football at the high school, on a state championship team, no less, it’s different. Rather than feel pressured to live up to their father’s achievements, Nathaniel and Daniel both said they felt a sense of responsibility - to their teammates.
Standing nearby as their sons spoke, Tracy and Roger both smiled. There are moments as a parent, when you know without question, without any words, that you got it right.
“I was on the first championship team, and that was one of the highlights of my life,” Roger said, “but this, it’s no comparison. I’m just so proud of both of them and what they’ve accomplished.”