Bitter playoff loss fuels Tuskegee football team for 2016 season

Bitter playoff loss fuels Tuskegee football team for 2016 season
Tuskegee Coach Willie Slater says he's excited about his 2016 team coming off last year's 10-win season. (Tuskegee Athletics)

Willie Slater’s Tuskegee football team notched another winning season on the gridiron in 2015. The Golden Tigers recorded their second 10-win campaign in the past four seasons.

The most recent season ended with a 35-6 loss to West Georgia in the quarterfinals of the Division II playoffs.

“I’m always disappointed in losses,” Slater said. “I thought we could have been undefeated. I am proud of our players and the effort that they give and the success we’ve been having with them.”

Alabama NewsCenter is posing five questions to state college coaches as the 2016 football season draws near. Next up are Slater and his Golden Tigers, who open their season at 6 p.m. CDT on Saturday, Sept. 3, at Clark Atlanta in a game that can be seen on the American Sports Network.

NC: What is the outlook for this season?

WS: I’m really excited about this team. I think we have a chance to have a really good team if we can stay healthy and get in shape.

NC: What is your team’s strength?

WS: Hopefully it’s going to be our defense. We’ve got our whole defensive front coming back, even though we lost our middle linebacker, who was an All-American in about nine different polls. I still think we have a really good nucleus there.

NC: Who are your standouts this season?

WS: I’m not a big standout guy. I’m a team guy. Guys that have done well are Osband Thompson; he’s our SAM linebacker. We have some returning defensive linemen – Allante Smith and Devonta Ramseur; I think they’re good players. All of our defensive ends are back, (including) Darion Hall. Jonah McCutcheon was a first-team all-conference back. We’ve got our first-team all-conference corner back in Darius Holmes. And the (Marlon) Parnell kid is also back at corner.

NC: What game do your fans have circled on your schedule?

WS: Probably the Florida A&M game. I’ve heard a lot of that. I can’t look that far. We’re circling Clark. We’ve got to go after Clark Atlanta and then go from there.

NC: What is your lingering question?

WS: Offense is where we have question marks, even though we’ve got Desmond Reece, who’s a really good receiver. We’ve got all our fullbacks back, and our tight ends back. Offensively, we have a senior quarterback, which is always good. He’s going to make some mistakes; we understand that. But he’s still a senior and he knows our system. We’re kind of back to the drawing board at tailback. We’re real concerned about that position, but I still think we have some good players there.

Also in this series: Read Alabama NewsCenter’s interviews with head coaches Reginald Ruffin of Miles College, Bobby Wallace of the University of North Alabama, Brett Gilliland of the University of West Alabama and Eddie Garfinkle of Birmingham-Southern College.

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