By Tommy Keeler Jr. -- firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPHENS CITY -- Sherando has had a slew of great running backs over the years. Names such as Chan Cho, Joe Oher, Markeith Brisco to Joe Ojo and Tre Porter. Taylor Loudan hopes to be one of the next great running backs at the school.
The senior will try to help replace the void left as Ojo and Porter graduated.
Sherando coach Bill Hall said Loudan has some special qualities at the position.
"Taylor Loudan may be the most elusive running back we've ever had that I've seen," Hall said. "He's not as big as what some of the other ones have been. He's got to define what his characteristics are, but he's a hard worker. He's a great competitor, and he's very elusive. I'm excited about him being back there."
Loudan saw some time there last season, backing up Ojo and Porter, but was mostly used as a wide receiver. Loudan finished with 105 yards on eight carries and one touchdown on the ground. He also had 12 receptions for 177 yards as a receiver.
Loudan said he's excited about being at running back, but he said he can't accomplish anything this season without the hard work of his offensive line.
"We have a great offensive line," Loudan said. "A great returning fullback and, honestly, they're going to do the majority of the work and I'm going to run behind them. I trust them with everything I got. That's who's going to lead me to the line."
Loudan said he's spent most of his football career at running back, so it's a pretty natural move for him. He will still spend some time at wide receiver.
Hall said one of Loudan's biggest strengths is his ability to avoid a big hit.
"It's not that he doesn't get hit, but he doesn't get hit hard," Hall said. "He's elusive. He's a small kid, but he does a good job managing the way he does get hit. He's shown a real knack for being able to run inside, but also to get on the edge."
Hall said they put Loudan at wide receiver last year because they knew it was important to get him in the game and let him make plays.
Loudan said he doesn't mind playing at receiver or running back.
"I'm just going to do whatever I can do to help the team win," Loudan said. "I just play wherever the team needs me. I just kind of hop in."
Loudan has a tough assignment in trying to help fill the void of Ojo and Porter. The two combined for 1,702 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Loudan said he learned a lot from the pair last year.
"They definitely helped me out with, like, vision and reading the blocks," Loudan said. "They taught me how to run hard, keep your head up and just looking down field at all times, following your blocks, trusting your blocks and being patient. Those guys taught me a lot last year, even though I did not get to play as much."
Loudan will also play in the secondary, which should be a real strength of the Warriors. Loudan said he's very excited about the defense this season.
"I feel like defense is going to be a big part of our team this year," Loudan said. "We're really excited about playing the game on defense. Everyone is really coming together on both sides of the ball, but defense you can tell there's a lot of hype there and we're ready to go."
As a senior, Loudan said he's trying to become even more of a leader for the team.
"I like taking on the leadership role, being out there and being a leader and teammates looking up to me," Loudan said. "I'm pushing them and they're pushing me to go as hard."
The Warriors have 13 seniors on the squad, but Loudan said they try not to look at things by class. He said they consider everybody to be part of one whole team.
Last year the Warriors went 7-4, but lost in overtime to Louisa in the first round of the playoffs. Loudan said the team wants to do better this season, and not have things end on such a down note.
"[The Louisa loss] was tough on the whole team and especially the seniors there," Loudan said. "And us juniors, we kind of had that taste. We saw how those seniors felt, and we don't want that. It kind of motivates us to go out there every day in practice, because that's where it starts."