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Twinsburg football looks for improvement

by Steve Batko | Correspondent Published: August 24, 2016 12:00 AM
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There's plenty of competition within the ranks of the Twinsburg High football program and with a year of experience under its collective belt, the upcoming 2016 season is all about improvement.

As head coach Mike Bell and his coaching staff leap into their second season, the Tigers are searching for more consistency and solid health -- something Twinsburg didn't have in last year's 1-9 edition.

Twinsburg opens the season Aug. 26 at Tiger Stadium against Copley in non-league action.

"We want to learn as much as we can from last season, but our complete and entire focus is 2016, and we focus on improvement one day at a time," emphasized Bell (99-65), who is entering his 15th season as a head coach with stints at Eastlake North and Mentor Lake Catholic.

As Twinsburg looks to improve, Bell will miss 18 graduated seniors and is eager to build with 11 returning lettermen this fall.

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In all, the Tigers will return six starters from a year ago.

Bell and his staff is hoping to make strides and improve in the Suburban League National Division, which features a host of state playoff clubs.

The Tigers were 1-6 last year in the rugged Suburban National, which includes the likes Stow-Munroe Falls, Hudson, Nordonia, Brecksville, Wadsworth, North Royalton, and Cuyahoga Falls.

"The Suburban league maybe the most challenging and competitive league in Ohio," pointed out Bell.

In week two, the Tigers travel to arch-rival Solon Sept. 2 in non-league action. In non-league play, Twinsburg hosts neighboring Aurora (Sept. 9), which has made the state playoffs 11 years in a row.

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Twinsburg opens up league action Sept. 16 at North Royalton. The Tigers also host a Thursday night game Oct. 6 against Wadsworth, another league foe. All games begin at 7 p.m.

With an influx of athletes, it was too soon for Bell to comment on positions and to name any starters.

"At this point we continue to have good competition at a number of positions which we hope will lead to players having to win those roles on a weekly, and even daily basis," said the mentor, of the competition.

A solid senior class will be pivotal to this year's success. The roster reveals 14 seniors, many of whom have varsity experience.

Senior quarterback Jalen Tucker (6-foot-1, 175 pounds) paced an injury-riddled offense last season that averaged 269.9 yards a game.

The Tigers' pro-style offense has athletes to be playmakers. Last year, Twinsburg passed for 140.4 yards and ran for 129.5 yards a contest.

Tucker hit for 167.6 total yards a game as he led the team in passing (1,332 yards, nine touchdowns, six interceptions) and rushing (344 yards). Tucker is also a punter.

Twinsburg, which only averaged 3.6 yards a carry in the ground game, committed only 10 turnovers in 2015. However, the Tigers gave up 37 sacks.

Jared Eaton is back and saw action last year at running back and on defense, where he was the third leading tackler. He can play strong safety or be used at linebacker.

Eaton (5-10, 175) was the third top rusher with 53 carries for 238 yards, and a 4.5-yard average. He can also play out in the slot or as a receiver as he had six catches for 52 yards.

Twinsburg's most experienced senior linemen is C.J. Roscoe (6-5, 235), who is a big offensive tackle prospect.

"We are getting good leadership from our seniors which will prove to be important as the season progresses, due to the amount of young players we anticipate playing this year," stressed Bell. /

Junior Cam-Ron McClain hopes to return to strong health as he could make an impact on both ends of the ball.

McClain (5-10, 170) is a speedster to can play running back and linebacker on defense. Last year before injuries, McClain had 106 yards rushing and two scores.

Sophomore wide receivers Tre Radford (6-3, 155) and James Besett (6-2, 155) showed some flashes last year.

Radford had four catches for 40 yards while junior wide receiver Christian Edgerson (6-1, 165) and Besett each had one reception.

Twinsburg's 4-3 defense will be young, but has promise. Last year's defense battled and allowed 217.6 yards a game.

Senior end Tim Edwards (6-1, 250) may be the team's top returning pass rush threat an area Twinsburg wants to improve. The Tigers posted only 9 sacks in 2015.

Brendan Little is a tested defensive back who also shined on special teams. Little (5-11, 155) has good speed. Little can also help in the return game on punts and kick offs.

Senior David Porter (5-8, 145) has played some defensive back and linebacker while junior linebacker James Grammons (5-11, 176) saw some action last year and shined on special teams.

Another senior with some experience is lineman Chase Robinson (6-1, 190), who did well on special teams last year.

Junior Brock Sako (6-0, 230) is a two-way lineman who can be used on the defensive front, along with junior end Sam Gwatkin (6-1, 190). Both saw some action last year while Sako could also play often on the offensive line at guard.

Returning placekicker Casey McCarthy is also back. McCarthy, who has thrived after having spinal surgery, hit 7-of-8 extra-point kicks in 2015. McCarthy (5-10, 150) is a senior and one of the team captains.

Junior Justin Deeds (5-11, 160) is versatile and the former quarterback can also play safety, defensive back, and wide receiver.

Sophomore linebacker Isaiah Savitt (5-11, 185) also has great promise.

Backup quarterback Adam Van de Motter (5-11, 165) saw some action last year.

Van de Motter could also help in the defensive secondary along with junior quarter prospect Seth Grabowski (5-7, 140), who also played in two games in 2015. Van de Motter can also punt the ball.

Other seniors include DB-WR Michael Cusma (5-10, 175), LB-RB Josh Flask (6-1, 185), OL-DL Jaylan Glover (5-10, 230), WR-DB Jon'Monte Taylor (6-1, 170), DB-WR Colin Trouten (5-9, 165), and RB-LB Drew Wilson (6-1, 165).

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

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