Competition for open spots bringing out best in Tigers
Hahnville head coach Lou Valdin goes over technique with some of his linemen during a spring practice.
"The attitude has been great and the kids have been working hard," Valdin said. "We have to replace so many starters, but it helps because we have a lot of competition for jobs."
Among the many key players the Tigers lost are quarterback Brian Ensminger, receiver Derek Howard and running back Ahmad White. Those three players accounted for a majority of the team's offensive output last season.
The Tigers will also be hit hard by the graduation of several defensive standouts. Linebackers Ben Taylor, Brody Bourg, Treval Dunmiles and Lindzell Rhodes all started multiple years for Hahnville and will be missed. On the defensive line, the Tigers lose Jordan Thompson, Eric Simpson and Jontrell Lockett.
With all those years of experience leaving the team, Valdin said this spring the Tigers went back to the drawing board.
"We are starting from square one," he said. "We are working on how to get in a stance, how to take on a blocker, how to tackle and how to lineup.
"We are not really installing anything. We are just running a basic offense and a very basic defense."
There have been a few surprises so far, and Valdin said he has been pleased by the talent of his upcoming sophomore class.
"They are really going to help us out on the defensive line and in the secondary," he said. "Our secondary is a senior-laden group, but these guys are going to provide some depth that we wouldn't have had before."
Right now, Valdin said the defense is ahead of the offense, but that usually happens in the spring.
"The offense is having to concentrate on fundamentals while also installing the offense," he said. "Defensively, we are just lining them up right and turning them loose."
Because of new rules governing spring football, Hahnville and other high schools across the state are limited to only 10 days of practice in pads. Previously, schools were allowed 15 days. Also, schools are not allowed to play another team in a spring game.
Football teams can only begin practice once baseball season is over, so Hahnville has had to squeeze in those 10 days in a two-week period.
"The guys have been hitting each other for 10 days straight, so it's tough," Valdin said. "We used to be able to drag out practice and hit and teach, hit and teach.”
With the limited practice time, Valdin said it’s also hard to truly evaluate his players. And that evaluation is the most important part of spring football.
"We have to make sure we've got all of our players in the right positions and make sure we have the best guys on the field," he said. "We may have a backup on offense that can help on defense or a backup on defense who can really help the offense.
"Making sure we have the right guys in the right positions is huge."
Because Hahnville will not be able to face off against another team in a spring game, Valdin said the evaluation process becomes that much tougher.
"It hurts because it's tough to evaluate players when they go against the same guys every day," he said. "Until you see them lined up against another color, it's hard to find out what they can really do."
The Tigers will have an hour-long scrimmage during Monday's practice, but will not hold the annual Purple and Gold game because it would take away from already limited practice time, Valdin said.
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