Tigers can sew up district crown with win over Braves

November 01 at 12:18 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

HHS linebacker Dylan DeJean upends a ballcarrier.
HHS linebacker Dylan DeJean upends a ballcarrier.
Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio has often noted his belief that his 2017 Hahnville team has the opportunity to be special.

The Tigers have done nothing but fortify his confidence in them for weeks, whether it’s been a 27-0 shutout at East St. John or a 62-27 victory over Central Lafourche that saw Hahnville lead 42-0 with four minutes to go in the first half.

It’s led Hahnville (7-2, 5-0) to the doorstep of its first outright district championship since 2012, a feat it can secure with a win at home over H.L. Bourgeois Friday night.

The Braves (1-8, 0-5) have had a trying year, with a slew of injuries helping lead to what has become a six game losing streak headed into Friday’s regular season finale. Saltaformaggio said the opponent’s record is not important, however. With one game left before the postseason, it’s about maintaining his team’s high level of play and securing the District 7-5A title along the way.

“Anytime you can win a championship, especially in a district that’s proven to be pretty good this year, it’s a great achievement,” Saltaformaggio said. “And beyond that, we have a lot left to play for, a lot of goals we want to attain. This is one of them.

“But make no mistake, this week our focus is all about H.L. Bourgeois. We can’t worry about potential playoff matchups or things of that nature. We have to keep making ourselves better and we have to take care of our business.”

With a win, Hahnville would a power points boost that goes to each district champion; that would likely all but cement a top 10 seed and first round home game for the Tigers. Saltaformaggio has said he’s already warned his players about looking too far ahead to potential round two games — which might even include a possible round two game with Destrehan, with both teams hovering around seeds 8 and 9.

“We worry about this week, then we’ll worry about next week and not beyond that,” Saltaformaggio said. “Because we have to win next week for there to be a week after that.”

Since beating Destrehan in Week 4, the Tigers have run through their competition, winning by differentials of 17, 42, 28, 27 and 35.

“It’s almost like we’ve found a different gear,” Saltaformaggio said. “Part of what we have to guard against is just that, that things have been coming easy for us. We have to continue to strive for the excellence we’ve found over the past few weeks and continue to get better, because life’s gonna get tougher for us real soon.”

H.L .Bourgeois splits quarterback reps between Alek Domangue, Connor Verdin and Cullen Nyssen, giving the Tigers a few different styles to prepare for. Verdin, a junior, was the team’s starter coming into the year before suffering an injury. Defensively, the Braves boast a big front that can pose problems.

“They don’t look like a typical 1-8 football team,” Saltaformaggio said.

 Hahnville’s stellar play of late comes down to five factors in Saltaformaggio’s mind: improved defensive play, coaches and players staying focused on the immediate task at hand, the emergence of playmakers outside of running back Anthony Williams and quarterback Jha’Quan Jackson, a dominant offensive line and the continued growth of Jackson as a quarterback.

That first point, on the team’s defense, has been an evolving project since Saltaformaggio took over the program in 2013. Hahnville had quality defensive teams in the first three years of his tenure, but he believes this unit is the best he’s had at the school. Hahnville shut out East St. John two weeks ago and scored the first 42 points of its clash with Central Lafourche a week ago before the opposition answered.

View other articles written Ryan Arena

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Breakout year comes to end for Wildcats
Breakout year comes to end for Wildcats
After securing a playoff berth for the first time since 2013, a breakthrough season came to a close for Destrehan in its Division I first-round playoff match at St. Amant.

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