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October 22, 2013

Twigg's goals start with Ringling

EMPIRE — Playing football in college, being Oklahoma’s leading rusher and beating the reigning state champs are all lofty goals whirling around in Empire junior Dillon Twigg’s mind.

He can only accomplish one of those this week, but what happens at Ringling could start to put the others in motion. For Twigg, the game on Friday represents more than just an opportunity to win the district. It means  the spotlight is on him, the crown jewel of a town with a population of approx. 1,000.

“When I first got here, I could just tell he had a lot of natural ability in terms of coordination and vision,” coach Jacob Smith said during the team’s first Ringling-focused film session on Monday. “It’s been awesome to see how much in one year he has matured and developed even more. A lot of it is, he has a lot of just natural ability. He’s a great athlete, but he’s also coachable and willing to listen.”

Twigg credits Smith, his strength and conditioning coach, for a lot of his improvement this year. He also credits his offensive line, which has helped open holes en route to Twigg’s outstanding statistical season. With the state’s rushing title up for grabs, nearly 1,600 yards rushing has Twigg’s second goal within reach.

“I think about it a lot, especially being at a little school,” Twigg said. “It’s really good to be at a little school and be number one in state.”

Ringling (5-1, 4-0) is also a small town, but the difference is the amount of attention the schools get because of Ringling’s success in the past. Before closing out Monday’s film session, Empire (6-1, 4-0) coach Tony Roberts told the team he wanted to see them on Ringling’s level. He said that they had been close to the powerhouse before, but they just aren’t there yet. Twigg could be that player who, finally, breaks that ceiling.

“We’re not in the limelight,” Roberts said. “That’s kind of the way we like it. Maybe we can sneak up on somebody and make our presence known.”

Regardless of whether or not the Bulldogs will be pulling a splinter-cell like performance on the Blue Devils, how Twigg perfoms on the big stage will be important to any coach who is considering him at the next level. It’s one thing to put up 300 yards every week against weak opponents. It’s quite another deal to run all over a defense that has allowed only seven points in its last five games.

“You want to play the best competition, because that’s when you’re going to have to take your game up to another level,” Smith said. “He certainly has the capability to do that. So that’s a great opportunity.”

If Twigg answers opportunities knock, it could be mean stage one of his three goals is accomplished. A district win would be on the line when the Bulldogs play Velma-Alma next week. He would be at the top of the line for the state rushing leaders, and more college coaches might be on the other line of his phone calls.

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