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Caleb Turrentine / The Tribune Tallassee’s Tavarious Griffin leaks off the line to cover a Dadeville running back during Thursday’s OTAs.

“He’s the kind of guy you want to coach.”

Tallassee football coach Mike Battles does not try to downplay how much Tavarious “Truck” Griffin means to the Tigers. With so many young players taking on important roles for Tallassee, Griffin has been looked to as the leader on offense and defense but his impact on those around him does not stop when he walks off the field.

“Truck is a leader by example,” Battles said. “He is always doing it the right way. Whether it’s making a play, responding to a question or being on time, he’s always doing it the right way. That’s the best way I can put it. He doesn’t ask anyone to do anything he hasn’t already done himself.”

There is rarely a play when you cannot find Griffin on the field. He is a three-year starter at outside linebacker but he has adapted to a new role on offense for his senior season.

After being the team’s top receiver at tight end last year, Griffin has moved around from position to position depending on the formation. The Tigers have used him as a go-to receiver in long passing situations but they have also allowed Griffin to take snaps at quarterback to get involved in the rushing attack.

“He is our premiere player,” Battles said. “Other teams want to know where he is at all times. He’s dependable. We’ve asked him to do a lot more this year. His role has become a lot bigger since July. He has done just about everything for us.”

While Tallassee’s offense has not been the key to success so far, big plays by Griffin have come in high-pressure moments to lift the Tigers to victories. Griffin caught a jump ball to convert a fourth down for a touchdown in a 28-7 win at Handley. Two weeks later, Griffin found the end zone again after catching a 25-yard pass from Tyler Ellis in a 10-6 win against Carroll.

“I just have to make sure I run my routes correctly,” Griffin said. “I always tell myself, ‘You’re a playmaker; go make plays.’ And that’s what I have to do.”

Griffin’s impact on offense may show up on the scoreboard but he said he likes playing defense just a little bit more. Griffin is one of the captains on defense and opponents often have to focus on slowing him down before getting their offense started.

After seeing double teams and making plays on defense, Griffin turns right back around to play more offense and usually sees rest during only some special teams plays. However, Griffin said he would not have it any other way.

“It forced me to step it up more and be more of a leader,” Griffin said. “It gets tiring a little bit though. I feel it Saturday mornings — sometimes a little sore and a little beat up — but I love doing it. I just deal with it.”

The other players see that dedication from him on the field and the Tigers feed off his energy. Battles said Griffin always played unselfish and he is putting in all that effort for his teammates.

“I don’t think Truck feels he is doing anything special but what makes the difference is he is willing to do whatever,” Battles said. “It doesn’t matter what it is. It’s loyalty and trust for the team, no questions asked, and that’s special.”

The Tigers (2-2) have their sights set on a return to the postseason this year and Griffin said it would mean a lot to him to finish his high school career strong. He knows he still has to be a leader to the young players but his confidence in them has grown since the offseason.

“We have a lot of faith in them,” Griffin said. “We’ve been getting better each week. The first week was a little rough but we’re taking it one week at a time and getting better.”

Battles seems to add news roles for Griffin to take on every week but he continues to rise to the challenge wherever Tallassee needs him. And while it’s good to have that kind of player on the field, Battles may even let Griffin do some work on the sideline.

“If I told Truck, ‘Hey, you’re going to have to coach this weekend,’ he would do it,” Battles said. “And he would probably do it better than me.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.