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New era begins at Truman

It’s a new era in Taylor as the Truman football team enters the 2014 campaign with a new coach at the reins and almost an entirely new varsity squad.

After losing the team’s top quarterback, running backs and wide receivers to graduation in June, new Coach Ellis Slaughter is ready to see what the new faces can do.

“It’s tough when you lose that many seniors and you replace them with kids who don’t’ have very much varsity experience,” Slaughter said. “It’s a new staff and basically a new varsity team (and) we’re really working on fundamentals.”

Although any combination of 36 individuals can be on the field at any given time, the Cougars will be playing under the motto “We Are One” throughout the season.

“That’s the motto we are going by, just to let them understand that we’re all on the same page,” Slaughter said. “A new staff means a new offensive set and a new defensive set and a new philosophy.

“This group of kids, even though we are young, they work extremely hard (and) we’re really excited about their work ethic for sure.”

Truman will be led by a junior-heavy team and right now is looking no further than the opening kickoff.

Slaughter and his squad open the season with Woodhaven, a team returning a bulk of the 2013 squad and the matchup has been high on the list of Downriver League showdowns the past two seasons.

In the senior class, the Cougars will be led by Joseph Dudley II (6-0, 175), who brings probably the most varsity experience to the field and will hold a captain role this season.

“We’re really excited to watch him play,” Slaughter said. “He’s an overall very good athlete and we’re gonna lean on him a lot.”

Rashid Campbell (6-2, 313) will be taking care of things as an offensive lineman.

“He’s been working really hard (and) we’re excited to see what he can do on the field for us,” Slaughter said.

Taking care of things at quarterback, will Joe Herrera (5-11, 195). The junior played quarterback on the junior varsity squad last season and Slaughter is excited to bring him to varsity.

“He’s a great kid with great work ethic,” he said. “He’s picking up everything pretty well for us.

“We’ve told him run the offensive like it’s your own. We’re excited to see what he can do coming out of one offensive philosophy to a brand new offensive philosophy.”

The Cougars are focusing on being fundamentally sound on all three phases of the game.

“We want to be solid in all three phases,” Slaughter said. “No mental mistakes, create turnovers on defense, no penalties on offense, score on special teams … everything is basically fundamentally sound.”

Slaughter says if his squad can eliminate the mistakes and hang on to the ball, they will have a positive season.

“There’s youthness out here, but I think we’re gonna be just fine,” he said. “We’re just gonna have to play hard.”

The Cougars kickoff with Woodhaven on Thursday at 7:00.

Last Updated: 8/26/2014 3:23:17 PM EST

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