The Slidell Tigers Break Through In 2018 Season With Help From Productive Senior Class
by Jace LeJeune
There was a lot of excitement heading into the 2018 season for the Slidell Tigers and Head Coach Larry Favre was as optimistic as any coach in the state about the kind of year his team was going to have. His team followed through with a breakout 2018 season. In District 6-5A, which has been dominated by St. Paul’s over the last decade, the Tigers not only competed, but won the district championship this season with an undefeated record in district to go along with an impressive 9-3 overall record. It was the first time in 15 years that the Tigers have defeated the Wolves. The team also advanced to the second round of the Class 5A playoffs where they lost to the East Ascension Spartans. It sure helps when there are a lot of skill position players that can make plays on both sides of the football.
Of course, the senior class is led by defensive back Ishmael Burdine, who is one of the best players in the 2019 class in the state. In fact, Burdine was a part of the early national signing day period when he signed with the Missouri Tigers today. Burdine held his commitment from all the way back in October. Heading into the season, Burdine was high on a lot of people’s radar especially Coach Favre and Louisiana Football Magazine’s recruiting expert Lee Brecheen.
“Ishmael Burdine is LSU good,” Brecheen said. “Burdine is the best defensive back to go through Slidell since Troy Twillie (LSU). He can run and cover as good as any defensive back in the state. He is a big time steal for Missouri.”
Burdine may be the biggest name on the team and is the team’s biggest prospect, but football is a team sport. It takes more than one player to win games. There are plenty of great senior players on the Tigers’ roster that played integral parts in order for the team to have success. On the offensive side of the football, there was the exciting QB/RB-WR duo of Jacob Guidry and Tito Simmons. Meanwhile, the special teams unit has always been reliable with long snapper Cameron Ryals. Brecheen is also high on these three players and believe that they can all play at the next level.
“Tito Simmons is a DI steal,” Brecheen said. “Simmons was one of the top playmakers in the St. Tammany area with his 4.45/40 speed.”
“Jacob Guidry can be a really good D-II, D-III quarterback,” Brecheen said.
“Cameron Ryals is really close to being a polished long snapper,” Brecheen said.
All three players have accomplished a lot in order for this team to have the breakout year they had.
Guidry has thrown for an incredible 3,063 passing yards and 31 touchdowns while rushing for 255 yards and one touchdown. Guidry also was named 1st Team All-District and was named MVP of the district. Despite the accolades, Guidry has not received one offer. One drawback may be the size as he is only 5-11, 175 pounds, but his ability to make big plays when things break down in the pocket make him stand out. Guidry is a fun player to watch and he gets that from watching a former Heisman Trophy winner.
“When Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M/Cleveland Browns) was in college, I used to watch him,” Guidry said. “I loved watching him because of the love he played for the game. I play just like him. We are both undersized, but we are able to make up for it with the ability to run the ball.”
Like mentioned earlier, Guidry has not received an offer to play so far, but it has not stopped him from going after his dream of playing football at the next level.
“I do want to play ball at the next level,” Guidry said. “I’ll go wherever I have to go to play ball.”
Another player that feels like he is being underlooked is Simmons, who is one of the best versatile skill players in the state because of his ability to play both running back and wide receiver. At 5-8, 165 pounds, Simmons may not be big, but he makes up for it thanks to his elusiveness and versatility. Case in point, he has been a two time All-District selection and has had 135 receptions for 2,294 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns to go along with 14 rushing touchdowns. Despite his versatility and skill set, Simmons has also been under recruited. So far, he has received one offer from Louisiana College. For Simmons, it does not matter who offers him as long as he also gets his opportunity to play.
“Yes, I want to play at the next level,” Simmons said. “It doesn’t matter where I go. It is wherever I get an offer.”
Finally, there is Cameron Ryals, who is a 6-0, 210 pound long snapper that will get an opportunity to play college football and has committed to the Southeastern Louisiana University Lions. Long snappers are known to be one of the toughest positions to evaluate, but when you are a perfect 100% on those snaps, then, you will be noticed. Ryals is proud of the fact that he was perfect on those snaps, and it was all thanks to a NFL long snapper that helped get into snapping.
“I model myself after Nate Boyer (Texas/Seattle Seahawks),” Ryals said. “He is a long snapper that served in the army and made his way to the NFL self taught.”
Besides Burdine and Ryals, who have both either signed or planning on signing, there is still plenty of time for both Guidry and Simmons the next signing day period to pick up a couple of offers.
Still, no matter what the future holds, there is still time to enjoy the last moments of being a Slidell Tiger before moving on to the next level. These players helped put a Slidell team on the map thanks to their great efforts in the 2018 season. There is plenty of hope on the horizon for not only this class, but many future classes as well.
“This season is something I will remember for the rest of my life,” Guidry said. “Going to battle with these dudes and coaches is definitely something I will remember forever!”
“We had one of the best seasons that Slidell had in a long time,” Simmons said. “We accomplished so many goals, and we put Slidell back on the map.”
“I think we changed how Slidell is looked at,” Ryals said. “We were not a team to be taken for granted. We are a changed program and are ready to compete every year.”
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