Rose Hill football: Champs defense has many new faces
Rose Hill senior TJ Slade doesnt look a bit like Derrick Decker, the Rockets quarterback who led them to the Class 4A title in 2011. Slade is about six inches shorter and 45 pounds lighter than Decker, who was a threat to run or pass.
But Slade shrugs off the comparisons. He knows hes a different quarterback.
Im definitely going to have to live up to the expectations of our last quarterback, he said. Im going to have to find a different way to contribute. Ill have to be an excellent passer and use my quickness to get into open space.
Hes got quick, talented teammates who can catch the ball, including Bret Waddell, Colton Mayes and Jonny Pearson. And Pearson and Mayes will be keys coming out of the backfield.
While Pearson didnt start last season, the senior running back had 1,696 rushing yards and was named to The Eagles All-Metro team.
He didnt start all year because we had some upperclassmen, too, that were running backs and were good, Rose Hill coach Greg Slade said. I think he said this last year that he knew what his role was as a running back.
And I hope he knows his role has changed this year.
Rose Hill definitely is a different team from 2011. Gone is the entire starting defense, including Decker at defensive back.
Many roles have changed, but for Pearson, the pressure and expectations have skyrocketed.
This year hell be the man and teams will look at him first when they start game-planning, Slade said. Last year you couldnt necessarily do that because of Derrick and the other backs we had . But if Jonny gets into the open, hell probably score. Hes got great speed, and he has the ability to change directions. Once he gets to the second level, hes pretty dangerous.
Rose Hill has a veteran offensive line that includes Connor Campbell, Michael Cleveland and Cody Walther. All three play multiple sports.
You have to have kids (on the line) that are going to work hard and are willing to do what it takes to do their job, Greg Slade said. Obviously with our running game, its important to execute our offense well.
As for the defense, well, theres a lot of unknowns with only TJ Slade, a defensive back, starting four games in 2011. Others have had playing time, but theres still a lack of experience.
But we feel like over the years, our program has been year-to-year pretty good, Greg Slade said. We have kids ready to step in there and to move in.