"I'm feeling good about things at Slidell," said Stephen Smith, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior who has an offer from Kansas State. "I think we can take the district championship. We just need to get more chemistry, to grow closer together as a team. My teammates are cool and things are going good. Slidell is switching to a 3-4 defense, which we ran at St. Paul's, and I already know all the coverage schemes."
Smith has gone one-on-one with quite a few talented receivers over the years, including Trovon Reed (Auburn), Armand Williams (LSU), and Jordan James (Tulsa), and this year, he'll get a chance to battle with former teammate Jermaine Sams - when Slidell meets St. Paul's in what's sure to be a heated district matchup.
"Jermaine and I used to go all-out, go our hardest against each other in practice," said Smith. "We know each other's moves. He's a great receiver, the fastest receiver in the district and one of the fastest in the state. I feel good about going against him though.
"Trovon Reed is just a great player. We played Thibodaux two years in a row and as a sophomore, I held him pretty good in the first half. He came out at quarterback in the second half of that game and we couldn't do anything against him. Last year, he played quarterback the entire game, so I didn't get to guard him."
Smith has had success against tall receivers such as Williams (6-foot-3) and James (6-foot-2).
"Last year, I was playing for St. Paul's and Williams was a senior for Slidell. That game (24-0 St. Paul's win) took place on a sloppy field. It was raining the whole time and Slidell's receivers had trouble catching the football. They tried to throw a lot, because we were shutting down their running game. I think he (Williams) had two catches in that game.
"I pretty much shut down Jordan James the entire game when we played St. Thomas More. I was a sophomore and he was a senior. I covered him well and held him to one catch."
Smith says that Slidell should have a prolific offense, thanks in large part to the running back tandem of Jonathan Miles and Stephon Smith.
"I don't know what other teams will do against us," he said. "We have the first-team all-district running back from last year in Stephon and the second-team all-district running back in Jonathan. I'm really surprised that Jonathan doesn't have any scholarship offers yet."
Slidell faces a big test in Week Two vs. crosstown rival Salmen. The Spartans reached the 4A semifinals in 2009 and return most of the stars from that team, including QB Daniel Sams, QB Matt Lipham, DE T.J. Price, and DT Malcolm Pichon. Salmen defeated Slidell 24-7 last year and Sams, who will play a variety of positions, is a Kansas State commit and a personal friend of Smith.
"I'm excited about that game," Smith said. "Sams might play wide receiver, he might play quarterback, he might play running back, and some safety too."
Smith says that he and his brother will likely hold off on committing to a school until after their senior season. Each of the twins holds a Kansas State offer and Stephon has additional offers from Louisiana-Lafayette, Tulsa, and ULM.