Like most wide receivers, Jucqui Taylor wants the ball thrown his way — preferably often.
But Taylor accepts everything else that comes with the position, and because of that, he has become one of the leaders on Uniontown's football team.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior has shown he can not only make the big catch, but that he can also come up with a big block when needed.
“It takes sacrifice,” Taylor said. “At the end of the day, you want the ball and you want to catch it as many times during the game that you can. But you have to have a selflessness to better the team.”
Taylor is the elder statesman of a group of receivers that includes Bru Martin, Jordan Pratt, Tito Cantalamessa and Lyric Ellis.
Uniontown coach John Fortugna said Taylor has been a work in progress, and that he's finally at a point where he can step up to be a team leader.
“Jucqui has really good hands, and he's very skillful,” Fortugna said. “There's not a lot of seniors on the team, and all of the other receivers are juniors. Jucqui's a great blocker and he has a great work ethic. Jucqui's fast and he works hard. He wants to get better every day.”
At cornerback, Taylor plays with the same tenaciousness that he does at wideout.
And yes, he likes to play rough.
“He's a good one back there,” Fortugna said. “He'll come up and hit you. Every one of our defensive backs will hit you. They're not big, but they hit.”
Fortugna said he has watched Taylor grow into a leader over the course of the past two seasons.
The longtime Uniontown coach hopes his other players have been watching as well.
The Red Raiders will field a young, mostly inexperienced team, and someone willing to step up and lead will be invaluable.
“The other seniors we have — the ones who didn't start in the past but who have played a little — are going to watch Jucqui and step up their game because of him,” Fortugna said. “He's vocal and he does it by example. I think he had it in him to be a leader when he was a junior and a sophomore, but you don't see it as much when they're younger.”
Taylor still wants his number called often. He still dreams of catching that game-winning touchdown pass.
But he has embraced the idea that he can help Uniontown win football games in other ways.
“I'm giving 100 percent and going hard 24/7,” Taylor said. “I think that everyone else around me will go just as hard. I'm looking to be a leader. I know it's my senior year, and I want to pass some things on to the younger players.”
Dave Stofcheck is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
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