Canal Winchester: Move to linebacker suits Indians’ Twiss
That Luke Twiss earned the best grades of all the Canal Winchester football team’s linebackers in three of the first four weeks of this season might not reflect his history at that position.
Twiss, a 6-foot-1, 203-pound senior, began last season as a second-string safety playing mostly junior varsity before being promoted to varsity and moved to linebacker with three weeks left in the regular season.
His four starts included three wins that helped the Indians earn a share of the OCC-Capital Division championship and qualify for the Division II, Region 8 playoffs.
“In (junior varsity) games, he was the best player on the field as a free safety and he was leading them in tackles week in and week out. Your free safety shouldn’t be leading your defense in tackles, but he was,” Indians coach Josh Stratton said. “It wasn’t because the defense was bad, because the team was really good, but it was his effort and ability to make plays.”
Twiss admitted that his transition wasn’t easy, even if it appeared so, but added that he is much more comfortable this season both at outside linebacker and as place-kicker.
Twiss had 12.5 stops through four games, including one for loss as well as an interception, and was 12-for-13 on extra points.
Canal Winchester is 1-4 overall and in the OCC-Capital entering its final scheduled regular-season game Friday, Oct. 2, at home against Delaware. The Indians lost their third consecutive game Sept. 25, falling 42-24 at Westerville South, the third-ranked team in Division II in last week’s state poll.
Twiss played quarterback on the freshman team and switched to safety for his sophomore year on junior varsity.
“I was always aggressive as a safety and that’s kind of why they moved me. I just come down and fill in a gap when I need to,” he said. “It’s going from primarily (defending) the pass to defending the run, so that’s a big difference. Playing with the big (offensive) linemen is different, too.”
Still, Twiss admitted that he had to accelerate his learning process before his first start in Week 8 last season against Franklin Heights.
“I missed all the summer basics with the linebackers. I’d never been there, so it was a big change in that sort of way,” said Twiss, crediting defensive coordinator Corey Coe and former linebackers coach Harrison Rosch for their teaching. “I just had to learn everything in a week.”
Twiss grew 1.5 inches and gained 25 pounds between his junior and senior seasons.
“He picks things up quickly. He’s able to make adjustments on the fly, which is something we’ve lacked this year but that he always does a nice job with,” Stratton said. “He’s always in the right spot.”
While he welcomes the chance to play college football at any level, Twiss hopes to earn admission to the Air Force Academy and become a fighter pilot. He picked up a love of flying from his mother, Jennifer, who is a flight attendant, and aspirations for the military after a grandfather and uncle served.
“If I could get in there and play Division I football, that would be awesome,” Twiss said. “I’ve been on planes my whole life. Flying is awesome. That and patriotism, that’s the perfect combo for me.”
DELAWARE at CANAL WINCHESTER
•When: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2
•Last meeting: 2013, Delaware 23-7
•Delaware (0-5 overall, 0-5 in OCC-Capital) to date: Lost to Big Walnut 14-6; lost to Westerville North 24-7; lost to Worthington Kilbourne 31-17; lost to Westerville South 59-20; lost to Dublin Scioto 28-0
•Canal Winchester (1-4 overall, 1-4 in OCC-Capital) to date: Lost to Kilbourne 33-14; defeated Franklin Heights 64-14; lost to Scioto 28-21; lost to North 21-7; lost to Westerville South 42-24
•Top Pacers: Alex Blevins (WR), Austin Dowell (QB), Logan Eubanks (RB), Ty Gillman (RB), Matt McGeath (OL/DL), Logan Gibson (OL), Gavin Kenney (OL), Kaleb Shaw (LB) and Orion Ward (DB)
•Top Indians: Stephan Byrd (RB), Jonathon Chandler (DL), Mason Fry (OL), Andre Heglar (WR), Korbin Martino (DB), Joey Moreno (OL), Reese Musick (QB), Blaine Riley (LB/P) and Luke Twiss (LB)