Four Chalmette Senior Owls are Flying Under the Radar, but are Looking to Soar to New Heights in 2018
by Jace LeJeune
As a lot of people know already, Louisiana has some of the deepest talent that there is throughout the entire country. There is so much talent that there are a lot of players throughout the Boot State that do not even get talked about and they are I-AA, D-II as well as D-III caliber players. This definitely refers to the Chalmette Owls. Heading into the 2018 season, the Chalmette Owls are not one of those teams that people talk about when it comes to one of the best football programs in the New Orleans area, but they really are one of the most consistent programs led by Head Coach Jason Tucker. Over the last three years, the Owls have finished with a 7-4 record consistently playing well in a tough district with other teams such as John Ehret, Landry Walker, East Jefferson, West Jefferson, and others. With other big name programs such as Rummel, John Curtis, St. Augustine, Edna Karr, McDonogh 35, Warren Easton, and plenty of others, it is pretty hard to stick out as a program in an area that may be the most talented not only in the state, but arguably in the country. Still, the Owls are a team that should not be overlooked. The same goes for four of their senior players in RB Brendan Hoorman, OL/DL Jamel Powell, ATH Brandon Tillman, and ATH Brad Payne. These are four players that are really flying under the radar and have a chance to do great things this season.
Offensively, the unit will be led by Brendan Hoorman. At 6-0, 200 pounds, Hoorman exemplifies toughness. A matter of fact, he was able to earn his teammates’ respect by earning Toughest Owl three years in a row. After running for over 1,100 yards over his career, Hoorman is ready to step up in order to make this a very run heavy team with his skill set.
“My biggest strength to my game is my vision on the field,” Hoorman said.
Hoorman’s vision and power is going to have to come in and play especially this season with program great Jason Roper already graduating from last season. The dual threat quarterback threw for over 1,176 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 500 more yards and four touchdowns in the Wing T offense. Roper’s ability to throw and run will be missed and there is indeed a quarterback battle going on right now, but Hoorman believes that the two quarterbacks playing for the starting job have the talent, but just need to put it all together.
“We do have a quarterback battle still going on,” Hoorman said. “However, both of them are very different from Jason. Jason had passing and his run game basically nailed down. The two quarterbacks both have to work still on the right reads, throwing mechanics, and good vision when they need to run.”
Fortunately, whoever does win the job, has the luxury of handing the ball off and throwing to plenty of really good athletes as the running back duo of Hoorman and fellow senior Ralph Griffin should be fun to watch and wide receiver Charles Bailey has become the main receiving target over the offseason. Also, add safety Brandon Tillman, who will be also seeing carries at running back as well. Then, you have yourself a pretty good offense.
“I feel like our running back group should have a very good season,” Hoorman said. “Our wide receiver Charles Bailey should perform very well this year as well.”
Hoorman has been going to several camps including ULL, South Alabama, and Mississippi College. He has also been contacted by some colleges, but has received no offers yet.
“My top schools are ULL, South Alabama, Northwestern State, and Mississippi College,” Hoorman said.
Louisiana Football Magazine’s recruiting guru Lee Brecheen is intrigued with Hoorman as a guy that can bulk up and become a very nice sleeper at the college level.
“The kid has a lot of room to grow,” Brecheen said. “He can get to 225 pounds easily and could play either running back, fullback, or linebacker. I think his strength is his ability to block. You can tell that he is coached well. Once he bulks up to 230 or 240, he can end up being a better player at the college level than he is already. He is the poster boy for a sleeper.”
Hoorman is one sleeper for the Owls, but there are plenty of others as well mentioned earlier. The Owls have some skill position players that can all make plays in the Wing T, but they would not be making any plays if it is not for the offensive line. The line is led by another intriguing player in senior OL/DL Jamel Powell. Brecheen believes that colleges will be intrigued by Powell because of his size and frame.
“Louisiana does not produce the tall linemen like in other football heavy states,” Brecheen said. “There are a lot of raw linemen that are 6-2, 6-3, and even 6-4. Jamel is one of those players and he is 6-4, 320 pounds. He is raw, but with the right program, he has a chance to become a really good player. He is another sleeper for Chalmette and could possibly play for a Southern or a Southeastern because of his upside.”
So far, Powell’s ideal size has intrigued a lot of programs and has already been offered a scholarship from some schools.
“I have a full ride to McNeese State, an offer from ULL, and another offer from Arkansas Pine Bluff,” Powell said.
The three year starter can bench press over 430 pounds, squat over 550 pounds, and can run a 5.2/40. He has a lot of potential and knows that he can only get better.
“My biggest strengths of the game is strength itself and just experience playing in the offense,” Powell said. “I need to improve on my endurance for me as I go both ways and I really need to improve on my stance.”
Powell may be big, strong, and mean on the field, but it does not mean he is that way off the field.
“On offense, I play like Tyron Smith (USC/Dallas Cowboys) because off the field, the whole schools loves me as a teddy bear, but on the field, I am like a rhino,” Powell said. “On defense, I am like Vita Via (Washington/Tampa Bay Buccaneers) because I am big, strong, and could plug up a hole.”
Skill players are nice, but it takes guys like Jamel Powell and his counterpart Nathan Thomas, who is 6-3, 270 pounds, to win games on both sides of the football. Speaking of the other side of the football, the Owls may have one of the best secondaries in the New Orleans area featuring defensive backs such as seniors Brad Payne and Brandon Tillman. Payne believes that this group does not get the appreciation or love that it deserves.
“Our secondary does a great job,” Payne said. “We don’t get beat over the top so we don’t give up the big plays.”
Brecheen believes that Tillman and Payne have the talent to become a really good duo this season and both players have a chance to make it at the next level.
“Brandon Tillman is a kid that you know is new to the position, but there are so many great defensive backs in Louisiana that it is hard to overlook guys like him. Every year in Louisiana, this is a position that is 70-80 deep. There maybe other players that are more polished than Tillman, but he is just as talented and if he goes to the right college, he has a chance to be a lot better and be just as good as some of those polished defensive backs right now,” Brecheen said. “As for Brad Payne, it is most important for him to have a really good senior season. He is a great high school player. If he gets bigger and stronger, he will be a guy that has a chance to play at the D-II, D-III level.”
Both players are coming off really good years in the secondary. At 5-11, 203 pounds, Tillman had 47 tackles and a touchdown return after a blocked punt as a junior. At 6-0, 170 pounds, Payne had an incredible year with 89 tackles, six interceptions, and two forced fumbles in 2017. Both players are really talented and have a chance to really be the strength of not only that side of the football, but on the entire team.
Payne has been looked at by South Alabama, Grambling State, and UAB, but is looking at different variables that will allow him to pick a college once the National Signing Day periods arrive.
“I am looking at how much the scholarship is going to be, if I will have a chance to come in and play, the education, the way the school looks, and the community around the school,” Payne said.
As for Tillman, he has yet to have any offers, but feels that if he has a big season and works on some areas, he should be able to have that success as well.
“My biggest strengths would mostly be that I have the build to play almost anywhere on the field as a high school player,” Tillman said. “I need to improve my hip mobility.”
Tillman will be athlete of the group as mentioned earlier, he will be able to play many different positions not only on defense, but on offense as well. He has said that he has watched film on Budda Baker (Washington/Arizona Cardinals) and Larry Fitzgerald (Pittsburgh/Arizona Cardinals) to get ready on both sides of the football. Not only has Tillman felt that he has improved, but he has felt a sense of maturity over the offseason from last year’s 7-4 team to this year’s team.
“This year, the team offensively and defensively has been more responsible,” Tillman said. “We were the young guys last year so now, everybody has gotten older and picking up on things quicker now.”
Chalmette has been district contenders over the last couple of years and even though teams such as John Ehret and Landry-Walker are the favorites in District 8-5A, he wants to let people know that they will be ready to compete.
“I am excited to play John Ehret and Landry Walker,” Tillman said. “They are two teams that give us really good competition every year. It should be two really good games.”
Even though the Owls play in a tough district and will have to do so without their veteran quarterback, the Owls have the skill position players such as Hoorman, Tillman, Payne, Griffin, etc. as well as the big bodies such as Powell and Thomas, but most importantly, the coaching staff to really breakout this season and maybe have their best season yet in 2018.
“Chalmette fans should be excited because we have a whole new look to things coming in,” Hoorman said. “We don’t ever want to be worse than last year and we tried really hard the whole summer to put our team in a good position this year where we can win more games, push through the playoffs and make a run.”
“I feel that we will have a better atmosphere and this offseason, we have been much happier players,” Powell said.
“This season, we really did improve and hoping with the many weapons on offense, defense, and special teams, we could just dominate every team,” Tillman said.
“This might be the best year ever for a team coming through Chalmette High School,” Payne said.
Obviously, the excitement is there among these players and with really a renewed sense of confidence for a team that has been a consistent player, this is an opportunity for the Owls to soar to new heights in 2018. The Owls will begin their season on August 31st when they kick off the season against one of the state’s best programs in St. Charles Catholic led by one of the state’s best coaches in Frank Monica.