ASHLAND Kahlil Vaughn hopes his senior season is the pinnacle of his career when he straps up for the Tomcats one more year.

In his sophomore season and Ashland’s state championship run, Vaughn played mostly junior varsity and saw the field in only five games. As a junior, Vaughn worked in the Tomcats’ secondary in all 11 contests and recorded 22 tackles—21 more than in his sophomore year.

Now the soft-spoken cornerback wants to leave his mark at Ashland for years to come after graduation.

“I want to be one of the best DBs here,” Vaughn said.

First-year Ashland coach Chad Tackett is excited to see what Vaughn has to offer this season and quickly pointed to what he called Vaughn’s best trait.

“Dedication,” Tackett said. “He was the only guy, or one of two guys, that had perfect attendance through every offseason workout. He hit all 48 workouts. That tells you how he’s bought into what we are doing. He’s worked his butt off in the weight room. He’s been to camps and combines this summer trying to improve his craft and get better at his position. You can see it. It’s starting to pay off and you can see it in the 7-on-7s that we’ve been doing. He’s really worked on his speed, and he’s one of the fastest kids we have on the team this year.”

One thing that has stood out to Tackett about Vaughn this preseason is his ability to take every day one at a time.

“He’s just trying to get a little bit better every day and that’s one of our core values,” Tackett said. “Get better day by day, and he’s doing that.”

Vaughn said his goal this season is to be the guy the opposition sees on defense and opts to throw the other direction.

“I’ve been working more to keep my eyes on the wide receiver and not opening my hips too early,” Vaughn said. “I’ve been working to get better in my one-on-ones to really lock down my receiver.”

Tackett described Vaughn as one of the most talented skill players that he’s seen and looks to lean on the senior as a leader both on and off the field. But Tackett was quick to add to the comment of Vaughn being soft-spoken, at least to anyone that’s not his teammate.

“It’s funny, because he’s quiet to us, but all the kids said he’s crazy loud,” Tackett said with a laugh. “Maybe he’s Jekyll and Hyde.”

Being one of the returning starters from last season’s squad puts Vaughn in position to take another step forward in his hopes of leading the defense by example.

“It’s really big,” Vaughn said. “I just have to stay focused, keep grinding and get better and better every day.”

With most of the Ashland 2021 starting secondary returning this season, Vaughn said being on the same page with his fellow position players came quickly when practice began.

“It helps us communicate better, because we already have our communication down,” Vaughn said.

As Vaughn looks to lead the Tomcats’ defense this season, his goal for his final year in the maroon and white was summed up in two words.

“Win State,” he said.

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