Tyreese Slaughter has been a force for the football team at Liberty Tech this season.
In fact, he and linebacker Hunter Brown are the only two Crusaders who are a force on both sides of the ball.
Slaughter is a defensive end and offensive tackle, and head coach Tyler Turner credits him with making the most improvement this year – on the field and in the class room.
“When he first got here last spring, I wasn’t the best student,” Slaughter said. “I wasn’t a troublemaker or anything like that, but I tried to be a class clown, and that didn’t help me much.
“My grades weren’t great, and I could’ve been doing a whole lot better than I was.”
Slaughter said Turner gave him that extra push to do better.
“He was on me pretty hard, but he came in and set the standard for me and everybody,” Slaughter said. “He called me out and told me I could and needed to be doing better.
“He said that if I didn’t want to try to do better and do this and that, that I wouldn’t need to worry about playing time because I wouldn’t be on the team.”
Slaughter, who is a three-year starter, said it didn’t take long after that for him to begin to change.
“At first it was just for football that I started trying to do the right things,” Slaughter said. “But then over the summer I thought about it, and I just need to be better in the class room because that’s what I should be doing whether I’m playing football or not.
“But I’m glad Coach Turner came in and really started from his first day here telling us this is what is expected of us and we don’t play if we don’t meet those expectations.”
Turner said he was proud of what Slaughter has become in the seven months since Turner arrived on campus.
“Yeah I had to get on him some and stay on him in the beginning, but he’s a totally different person now than what he was back in the spring,” Turner said. “He’s a leader in the locker room and on the field, and he backs it up with the work he puts in not only on that practice field but in the class room as well.”
Slaughter said he’s not sure what will happen when the Crusaders travel to Nashville to take on Christ Presbyterian Academy in the Class 3A state semifinals, but he has a good idea of how he and his teammates will play.
“We’re going to go hard the way we’ve been taught to,” Slaughter said. “We’ve done things the way Coach Turner and everybody else has told us to, and it’s worked because we’re undefeated and in the state semifinals.
“I believe if we continue to do that, we’ll play for a state championship next week.”
Brandon Shields, 425-9751
What: Liberty at CPA
When: 7 p.m.