Valdin: Hahnville needs perfect game to knock off Destrehan
Hahnville running back Todge Scott tries to find a hole during the Tigers overtime win against Thibodaux. This week, Hahnville will face one of the best teams in the state when they host Destrehan.
The parish rivalry is the most anticipated game of the year and usually serves as a predictor of who wins the district championship.
Destrehan (4-0) has had a great start to their season, outscoring their opponents 196 to 65. Hahnville (2-2) has struggled in four games, all of which were decided by one score, including two they lost after taking leads into the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Hahnville’s point differential on the year has been much lower than Destrehan’s at 52 to 51.
"Destrehan is the best football team we will play all year, no doubt," Hahnville head coach Lou Valdin said.
Valdin said he is sizing up Destrehan just like he would any other team they face and he realizes how good of a team they are.
"They are loaded. They are the high school equivalent to the greatest show on turf. They can run the ball, they can throw the ball, they are fast paced," he said. "Offensively, they are as good a team as I’ve ever seen. They may even be better than their last state championship team."
The Wildcats have Donovan Isom, who has already received a scholarship offer to play at Utah University, in the quarterback position for his second year. Through the first four games of the season, he has passed for 14 touchdowns and rushed for two more. But last week, in a 42-17 district victory over Terrebonne, it was running back Will Mathews who racked up the points with four rushing touchdowns on 153 yards.
The Hahnville defense will have to be prepared for Destrehan’s ground and air attack. Valdin said the only way to do that is to get defenders in Isom’s face while providing good coverage downfield.
"The thing is we have to put pressure on Isom. If he can sit back there and throw we are in trouble," he said. "The ideal situation would be to get to him with a four-man rush and not give up anything cheap. If we do that, we would be good. We may have to blitz, some zone blitzes, to put the pressure on them."
Hahnville is coming off their best offensive performance of the year so far against Thibodaux. Running back Lynn Simmons led the team with 223 yards and a touchdown on only 23 carries. Quarterback Logan Martindale found wide receiver Ricky Preston for a 19-yard score that sent the game into overtime.
But in the victory, the Tigers had their share of mishaps with a Simmons’ fumble and an interception that bounced out of the hands of wide receivier Brandon Singleton and into those of a defender. They also had to overcome a 10-point deficit before taking the win in overtime.
Valdin said his offense must hold on to the football and stay on the field as long as possible in order to keep Destrehan’s explosive offense at bay.
"The easiest thing to do is keep them on the sidelines. We need to move the chains and keep possession," he said.
But that is easier said than done. In order to contend with such a strong team, Valdin said his squad will have to play their best game of the season.
"Realistically, for us to have a chance, we have to be perfect," he said.
Despite the pranks expected to be played in the Destrehan and Hahnville communities leading up to the game, Valdin said he does not let the hype surrounding the rivalry get to him.
"As a coach, I don’t get caught up in that rivalry stuff. Rivalries are for people who don’t coach, don’t play and don’t practice and it only serves to make them feel good about what side of the river they live on," he said.
This week, Hahnville will also be supporting a non-profit organization and asking fans to help.
"It’s going to be another Coach for Cure game for muscular dystrophy and fans can text CURE to 90999 to make a $5 donation to cure muscular dystrophy," Valdin said.
The rivalry game will kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4 in Tiger Stadium in Boutte.
(Editor's note: An earlier version of this story stated Hahnville quarterback Logan Martindale threw two interceptions in the Thibodaux game while he only threw one.)
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