Despite posting a 7-3 overall record and earning at least a share of the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division championship for the fourth consecutive year in 2011, the Twinsburg High School football team failed to qualify for the Division I playoffs for the first time in three seasons under first-year head coach Joe Schiavone.
The Tigers graduated 28 seniors from the squad that shared the division crown with Solon and Mentor with a 4-1 league mark last fall, but with the return of All-Ohio selections Jalen Washington and John Barton, Twinsburg is projected to remain one of the NOC’s elite squads in 2012.
Washington, a 6-foot, 175-pound quarterback, threw for 1,850 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior while also rushing for 259 yards and another score.
Barton, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound senior running back, rushed for 1,307 yards and 27 touchdowns last season while also racking up 486 receiving yards and four scores.
Twinsburg kicks off the season on Friday at home against Aurora.
Schiavone answered questions earlier this preseason about this year’s squad and its upcoming season for WKYC’s usatodayhss.com Web site.
WKYC’s usatodayhss.com: What was your message to your team during your first meeting of fall camp?
Twinsburg football coach Joe Schiavone: Last year was last year. We need to find out this team’s identity and build our own.
WKYC: What is the biggest question/uncertainty about your team that you hope to have answered by the start of conference play?
Schiavone: Can we handle adversity and can we find ways to win football games?
WKYC: What are your goals for your team this season?
Schiavone: Same as every season – win the conference, qualify for the playoffs and win a state championship.
WKYC: What must happen for your team to be able to accomplish those goals?
Schiavone: Limit turnovers, find some inexperienced players to fill necessary spots and play together as one unit.
WKYC: Who are your team’s projected leaders/captions this season? What do you expect each to bring to the team?
Schiavone: John Barton, Jalen Washington, Bob Liu, Ben Bisesi, Cooper Rea and Scott Tegowski. I expect a lot from my captains as I am in constant communication with them and they need to be with me. I expect them to lead in a positive manner and represent their teammates accordingly.
WKYC: What do you expect to be your team’s greatest strength this season?
Schiavone: Our speed and athleticism has always been our cornerstone of success. We had a very productive offseason. The offense will be leaned on heavily with the return of Jalen and John. The offensive and defensive schemes are in place and the players are comfortable with each.
WKYC: What is your team’s biggest weakness right now?
Schiavone: Depth and limited numbers along our offensive and defensive lines. We need to find the right people to replace eight starters on offense and seven on defense.
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