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Twin brothers Ryan Luther and Sam Luther signed up to play football at Haddam-Killingworth last fall and made significant contributions for the Cougars throughout the season. (Photo courtesy of Sam Luther )
Senior Ryan Luther was slated to be the center/long snapper for the H-K football squad this fall, but still may get an opportunity to hold that same role come springtime. (Photo courtesy of Sam Luther )
Senior Sam Luther has enjoyed competing alongside his twin brother Ryan for the past several years, including last year, when the two siblings suited up for the H-K football team. (Photo courtesy of Sam Luther )
Ryan Luther and Sam Luther have been playing sports together for most of their lives. In their junior year of high school, the twin brothers decided to give football a shot at Haddam-Killingworth and thrived for the Cougars during the season.
Ryan and Sam and currently seniors at H-K. Their interest in football was piqued during their freshman year, when the duo was playing for the Cougars’ freshman basketball team that was coached by Mike Baklik, who was also head coach of the football team at the time. Baklik convinced the Luther brothers that they should test their mettle on the gridiron and, two years later, they did just that.
“This is my second year of football, and we decided to play because Coach Baklik encouraged us to play. He was a great basketball coach and teacher and definitely inspired us to play,” Sam Luther said. “We also always loved the sport and looked up to our dad, who played for Glastonbury High School as a kid and won the state championship there.”
Luther said that he and his brother never would have stepped on the football field without that push from Baklik. Now, the Luther brothers each feel happy that they pursued that opportunity. The two siblings have always had a friendly competition between each other both on the field and in the classroom.
“My brother Sam and I have been playing sports together all of our lives. We would play pickup games in our driveway for basketball, we would practice tackling each other for football, and we would stay for hours at a baseball field,” Ryan Luther said. “We always push each other to be better because, if one of us accomplishes something, the other has to also. Moreover, this applies to school. We push each other to finish homework and to get good grades. It’s always a competition to see who got the better grade on a test.”
The brothers found that they enjoyed the team aspect of football when they suited up for the Cougars last fall. The sibling tandem also embraced the dedication that it takes to win games on a weekly basis.
“To be successful, everyone on the field needs to do their job and be accountable for their actions,” said Sam Luther. “However, if you do mess up, your teammates always have your back.”
One of the ways that the Luthers worked on improving their football skills was by hitting the weight room. Ryan Luther felt like he was more prepared for football when he started playing as a junior, because he had consistently lifting weights during his freshman and sophomore years of high school.
“I believe that to improve in the game of football, you need to be dedicated in the weight room,” Luther said. “I was able to lift my sophomore and freshman years, so I didn’t feel behind once I started playing. It is especially important when you’re a lineman like me, because you need to use your physical strength to block people downfield.”
Sam Luther started at tight end for H-K last year and was slated to play offensive guard this year. Ryan Luther started at center and was also the team’s long snapper during the 2019 season. Unfortunately, neither athlete had a chance to take the field this fall after the 11-on-11 football season was canceled by the CIAC due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even with the cancellation of the season, first-year Head Coach Erik Becker was still able to work with the Luther twins at H-K’s practices. It didn’t take long for Becker to see all of the great traits that Ryan and Sam Luther brought to the team. He’s hoping to see even more of that during a potential spring season in 2021.
“Sam and Ryan are everything you could ask for in a player,” Becker said. “They are wonderful young men, they are outstanding students, and they are very hard workers on the field. They set the example every day for the younger kids and provide character-based leadership for their teammates.”
While the Luther brothers have only known Becker for a short time, they both said that he’s one of the best coaches they’ve ever had.
“We both have a great relationship with Coach Becker,” Sam Luther said. “He is always super positive and is really knowledgeable about the game. He truly cares about his players and is always there to help out. Although we only had him for this short season, we had many great conversations, and he definitely helped us improve.”
Ryan Luther echoed his brother’s sentiments regarding their relationship with Becker.
“Even though this is Coach Becker’s first year at H-K, he was one of my favorite coaches ever,” said Luther. “He always comes to practice with a positive attitude, and I can ask him a question about anything. He is very supportive to all of our players.”
Ryan and Sam Luther will be graduating from H-K next year. Sam Luther is planning on majoring in nursing in college, but has yet to decided on a school. Ryan Luther has applied to UConn, Saint Anselm College, Saint Michael’s College, Middlebury College, and Bowdoin College.
Sam Luther said that he and his brother are looking forward to attending college, but are also eager to watch the H-K football squad flourish during the upcoming years.
“Ryan and I definitely prioritize school first and are proud to always make the high honor roll,” Luther said. “Although we will be graduating, we have high hopes for our team next year. Coach Becker is a great coach and will prepare the guys well.”