Last Update: Thursday, April 17, 2014
|Written by Mike Terry|
|Thursday, 01 November 2012 05:40|
Looking To Add On - Twin brothers Josh (left) and Tyler Riggs, who play football at Verdugo Hills, hope the Dons will be able to add another East Valley League championship on the team's wall of fame. The Dons will host North Hollywood on Friday, Nov. 2.
There are several reasons why Verdugo Hills has emerged as the leading football team in the East Valley League.
Josh and Tyler Riggs are two of the most important ones.
The 17-year-old fraternal twins have shined on offense and defense for the Dons (6-3,5-0), who can win their first outright league title in six years by defeating North Hollywood on Friday, Nov. 2.
On offense, Tyler (the oldest by six minutes) is a running back who is not afraid to push his 5-9, 185-pound frame into traffic and mix it up. He so far has collected a team high 905 yards and seven touchdowns on 122 carries. On defense he is a middle linebacker, and is tied with teammate Robert Maldonado for the team lead in tackles; both have 73.
Josh, at 5-7 and 145, is a wide receiver on offense. He is having an outstanding season with 71 receptions in nine games, good for 1,208 yards and 12 touchdowns. The yardage tops all other listed leaders in the Los Angeles City Section. On defense, he leads Verdugo Hills in interceptions with six.
Whatever category the twins find themselves in, it gives them pleasure if one brother is ahead of the other. That's because they are very competitive with themselves.
But they're also happy they don't play the same position.
"I think it would cause tension if we were both the same position," Josh said. "But since we're both starters, and starters both ways, we get to compete in other ways – like who has more tackles, who has the better overall game. It's nothing hostile; it's all fun, competing."
Tyler jokes that, as the older twin, he used to boss Josh around. "But now that we get older, we're just really competitive," he said "We're not fighting as much, but we want to be better than the other. It helps us out a lot, always competing against each other."
They started playing freshman football at Verdugo Hills in 2009, but their small stature didn't scream out "future stars" of the varsity.
"When we both came here we were both undersized; on the freshman team we were barely over five feet," Tyler said. "But we went to the weight room and worked hard. A growth spurt kicked in, we got faster, and here we are."
The weight room is especially essential to Josh, to help him endure the physical pounding that occurs during the season. His receiving yardage is 51 percent of the team's total, which makes him someone opposing defenses zero in on when it comes to game planning.
"I've definitely had (defenders) try and 'lay a hat' on me, but I've held my own. And I've laid the hat on them as well," Josh said. "I also think I'm faster than I look. Hopefully I'm faster than I look. I think I've surprised some guys."
Coach John Wallace, who brought the twins up to the varsity last year, said he wasn't exactly sure what he had at first. But he thought the Riggs brothers could contribute to the team in some fashion.
"They have always been small. But they were also one of the few groups of kids that played (Pop Warner). Most of our kids, the first time they play tackle is when we see them," Wallace said.
"Both showed promise from the start. And the biggest thing is their competition between themselves. Josh is the smaller one, but won't get beat in the weight room. They are always competing with each other."
Wallace wonders, at times, if the twins can get too competitive. "They get along better with others sometimes. But they try to drive the other one to be better."
While equal parts testosterone, the brothers are definitely not identical. For one thing, they do not dress alike. "That broke up early," they said. And, they add with sly grins, they have different tastes in girls.
They also don't need or want to be identical.
"In certain cases it might be fun to be identical; maybe switching classes, messing with teachers," Tyler said. "But I like looking different and being noticed for not being identical."
They have helped Verdugo Hills get on a roll as the regular season winds down. The Dons have won five straight, and none of those victories is bigger than the 38-32 victory over Arleta on Oct. 26. It was the team's first win against the Mustangs' varsity in six tries, dating back to 2007.
Both Josh and Tyler had key roles in the victory. Tyler ran for 160 yards and a touchdown, and on defense sacked Mustangs quarterback Anthony Silva for a safety in the third quarter. Josh caught 10 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns, the second one clinching the victory.
"As a team we really wanted to beat Arleta," Josh said. "We weren't sleeping on any other teams, but Arleta was definitely one of our main focuses on this season. With like two minutes left, I couldn't believe we were about to pull off the upset. And when I saw the clock finally tick down, I was in shock. I just grabbed my helmet and stared at the ground the entire time."
Adds Tyler, "when we took that final knee, we were all so excited. But we still had that thing in the back of our minds that it's not over yet. Of course we were all celebrating, but we have one more game and the playoffs, too. It's still a long season."
Verdugo Hills is now in position to win its first outright league title since 2006. That team finished the season 12-1, and reached the City Section Invitational (now Division II) semifinals.
Wallace, naturally, worries about the Dons' finding the same focus and desire to beat North Hollywood (6-3,4-1) that they had for Arleta. Should North Hollywood and Arleta win on the final weekend of the regular season, all three teams would tie for the league title, and be at the mercy of coin flips.
Tyler said there would be no overlooking the Huskies.
"We know they have a some good athletes and we're getting prepared to stop them," he said. "We know they have good offensive line and they like to pound the ball. We're preparing a lot of run defense. At the beginning of the season, our biggest weak point was stopping the run. That's what we're really focusing on right now."
Just as the Huskies are trying to figure out ways to stop the Riggs brothers.
A problem times two.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 01 November 2012 06:02|