Guilbeaux reflects on Tigers' 2015 season

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Head coach Benny Guilbeaux talks to his Donaldsonville Tigers. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

The Donaldsonville Tigers headed into the 2015 football season bolstering high expectations as they returned many talented starters from a team that reached the second round of the playoffs a year earlier.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, their wealth of talent could only yield three victories, and for the first time under head coach Benny Guilbeaux, they missed out on the postseason.

"It was inconsistency. We had guys out for a variety of reasons for a number of games throughout the season," Guilbeaux said. "With the new district, I knew coming in that we would have to win at least four games to make the playoffs.

"We headed into week 10 with three wins and around the No. 33 spot in the power rankings, but we hit up on a legit U-High team. I thought we had some of the best talent in 3A, but we didn't always show it, so our season ended abruptly."

That inconsistency was tough for Donaldsonville to overcome playing such a brutal schedule. Throughout the course of the year, the Tigers played seven playoff teams.

That level of difficulty only increased once they opened action in District 6-3A. It was their first year in the league, and they were forced to battle four playoff teams in Port Allen, West Feliciana, Parkview Baptist and University Lab. The Tigers lost to all four teams by a combined margin of 211-105.

"For the first two years, we were able to schedule 4A and 5A schools like Dutchtown, and that helped boost up our power points. So, we were able to make the playoffs--even with losing records," Guilbeaux said. "When we made it, we were able to get wins against South Beauregard and Iota.

"We were talented this year; we just weren't consistent. We knew that we would have to deal with some good teams that were polished. We weren't as polished as we needed to be."

With their offense being led by talented guys like quarterback Tyler Brown and wide receiver Stephen Sullivan, Donaldsonville put up plenty of points--averaging 30 per contest. However, it was on defense where the Tigers struggled the most. They surrendered 40 per contest.

Guilbeaux wasn't thrilled with the effort from week to week, but he did say that he was thankful with how his team was able to stay healthy.

"I though one of the positive things was that we were able to keep the guys that are going to be playing at the next level healthy," Guilbeaux said. "Tyarise Stevenson hurt his knee a little, but it wasn't anything serious. Stephen Sullivan will be playing at the next level, and he was able to stay healthy.

"I think we have a good group of linemen that will be coming back that will anchor our team next year. But, overall, I thought we underachieved."

Donaldsonville will be losing the ultra-talented Brown, Sullivan and Stevenson, along with many of their key components from their backfield.

Brown has received many scholarship offers that include Southern and UL-Lafayette. Sullivan recently de-committed from LSU. He has offers from teams like TCU and Texas. Stevenson recently de-committed from Tulane. He has offers from teams like Texas Tech and Southern.

Although losing those three players will certainly hurt, Guilbeaux is excited about the players the Tigers bring back next year.

"I'm excited about our backup quarterback Jaylin Williams. He got to see some action this year," Guilbeaux said. "We're losing pretty much all of our running backs, but I'm eager to coach a new group of guys. We usually have great wide receivers, but we're losing most of them.

"I thought we would have been able to protect our quarterback better this year than we did. We're going to invest more time in these younger players. Hopefully, we'll get them to pan out and get back to the playoffs next year."