The Duncan Banner

December 25, 2013

Dillon Twigg named All-Area offensive player of the year

Bob Morris
The Duncan Banner

EMPIRE — One year ago, Empire running back Dillon Twigg was named The Duncan Banner’s All-Area Football Newcomer of the Year.

Twigg then made one of his goals to get another recognition this year — Offensive Player of the Year.

“Since I was a junior and I was on offense, I was aiming to get an all-area player of the year award,” he said.

Mission accomplished.

Twigg’s dominance this season earned him The Duncan Banner All-Area Offensive Player of the Year, an award he said he is “pretty ecstatic” to receive.

Twigg made his case clear during the 2013 season. He rushed for 2,075 yards and 28 touchdowns, averaging 7.9 yards per carry and 207 yards per game. That was even after he missed the Healdton game because of an injury and with Bray-Doyle forfeiting a game.

The injury which forced him to miss the Healdton game Oct. 11 was a high ankle sprain, which happened a week earlier against Walters. Twigg said the injury forced him to adjust his running style.

“I couldn’t do as much cutting as juking as I normally did, so I had to run north and south,” he said. “I had on and off pain, and had to take a lot of anti-inflammatories. I had to tape it up, wrap it up and wear an ankle brace.”

Twigg remembered that his coach, Tony Roberts, tried a psychological ploy the week of the Walters game.

“Coach Roberts suited me up and kept me on the sidelines as a scare factor,” Twigg said.

The junior running back was used to defenses focusing on him. For most of the season, Twigg carried the load at running back because senior teammate Stephen Price had a broken bone in his foot, which meant he didn’t see much time on offense. Twigg said he understood teams would focus on him more, but that was fine with him.

“I knew I was going to get the ball more times than I was with Stephen out there, and that put more focus on me when teams watched film,” he said. “But it was the wrong mindset to take, because they were focused more on me than the team.

“The team is what will beat you, not the player.”

Indeed, the Bulldogs had one of their strongest seasons in many years. They finished 9-3 overall, took second in District 4-A, and hosted and won a first-round playoff game. It marked the first time the Bulldogs had won a playoff game since 1991.

Regarding the season, Twigg said, “To me, this season is one of the most successful seasons Empire has ever had. Beating Velma-Alma was probably the biggest accomplishment for me, but winning a first-round playoff game and going to the second round was big for the whole team.”

The Bulldogs made their statement after beating Crescent 46-13 in the first round of the playoffs. They had lost at Crescent in the first round the year before, 28-20. Twigg said that gave the Bulldogs plenty of motivation.

“We were going to show them what we were made of this year,” Twigg said. “It was kind of nerve racking becuase we got the ball inside the 20 a couple of times and fumbles. But things started coming together. Our goal was to beat them worse than they beat us.”

Twigg praised the Bulldog offensive line for its blocking.

“As we went further into practices, we started coming together as a team and the lines started blocking well,” he said. “They were stuffing it down people’s throats. We were the best at it all because of the offensive line.”

All eyes will be on Twigg next season to see what he will do for an encore. He and the Bulldogs will have plenty of work ahead, because 10 seniors will graduate. There will be some younger players stepping into key roles, but Twigg said that, as long as they mature into their roles, they will be fine.

“The only thing I’m concerned about is the maturity level,” he said. “But if they get in the weight room and work with coach (Jacob) Smith, he’ll get them matured. Because when you are matured, your mind is more focused on what you want.”