The Duncan Banner

May 13, 2014

Position shuffling at Empire’s spring practices

John McKelvey
The Duncan Banner

EMPIRE — Empire is already making significant changes to try to replicate last season’s success on the football field.

The first and biggest change is moving Tanner Ford from offensive lineman to quarterback. The switch will give the Bulldogs the opportunity to move sophomore Evan Whitt from quarterback to a position where he can use his athleticism in different ways, either running back or receiver.

Hesitant to put forth an individual goals this year, Ford is beginning to understand the responsibilities that accompany his new role.

“I’m hoping to be the best I can, just play the part,” Ford said. “It’s not really that difficult. It’s just knowing the handoffs, and I guess dealing with the pressure.”

Ford’s arm is another reason for the transition. Coach Tony Roberts doesn’t know if the move is certain, but wherever Ford ends up, he’ll be hard to stop.

“Wherever Tanner is going to be he’ll be a solid player for us, just like last year,” Roberts said. “Every year you have to make changes to put people in different places, not just to make that person better but to make the whole team better.”

One change Roberts doesn’t have to worry about is with junior Dillon Twigg. Empire’s gameplan will likely revolve once again with getting No. 6 the ball. Last year Twigg challenged for the state rushing title, and he hopes he can have an even better season this year.

“We’ve got a lot of new goals this season,” Twigg said. “I want to get us past the second round of the playoffs.”

The Bulldogs were eliminated by eventual-state champion Hollis in the second round of the 2013 state tournament. Roberts thinks Twigg’s progress this season will have a significant impact on whether the team can improve on that achievement.

“I think Dillon could be one of those really special kids that only come along once in a while,” Roberts said. “He’s probably the best running back in Class A, but we’ve got to go out and prove that to people.”

Accomplishing the same level of rushing statistics won’t be easy for Empire as it has only two offensive linemen returning — three if Ford moves back.

“For Dillon to have the year like he did last year, we’ve got to still be able to block and do the things we did last year,” Roberts said. “We’ve still got Anthony Gonzalez and Gage Pierce there. If (Ford at quarterback) doesn’t work out, we’ll be able to move some people around, but right now we’re looking at that type of situation.”