For Hahnville head coach Lou Valdin, last week's 42-28 loss to Lutcher was because of one reason - field position. And the team must make huge strides in that area if they hope to beat undefeated O. Perry Walker on Friday night.
|Hahnville senior Jared Vial makes a special teams tackle in the Tigers 42-28 loss to Lutcher. Tiger head coach Lou Valdin said the main reason for Hahnville’s loss was starting field position.
"We lost the field position battle. Our average starting position was between the 20 and 25-yard line, while they were starting at around the 45," he said. "We were kicking balls out of bounds, and when it didn't go out of bounds, we let them return it to the 50.
"Field position was huge."
Hahnville actually started well against Lutcher, with Ensminger capping his team's first drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Desvon Joseph. It was all Lutcher for the rest of the first quarter though, and the Tigers entered the second trailing 19-7.
Hahnville defensive lineman Jordan Thompson's 25-yard interception return got the Tigers back in the game. Running back Ahmad White then scored on a 2-yard run to give the Tigers a 21-19 lead.
But with 5:53 left until the half, Lutcher's Jared Poche found junior wide receiver Dorian Semien for a 19-yard touchdown that gave Lutcher a 27-21 advantage.
Lutcher pulled away in the third quarter on what Valdin called two freaky plays.
The first occurred when Linzell Rhodes intercepted Lutcher quarterback Austin Matherne. As Rhodes was running back up field, he attempted to lateral the ball to a teammate but instead found Lutcher star Jarvis Landry.
Landry raced 61 yards to give his team a 35-21 lead.
Lutcher came through with yet another huge play at the end of the third when Bulldog junior Jordan Batiste picked up a bouncing punt and streaked down the sideline for a 43-yard touchdown that essentially gave Lutcher the victory.
Hahnville played a majority of the second half without starting quarterback Brian Ensminger, who suffered an ankle sprain. But Valdin still felt that his team played well enough on both offense and defense to get the win.
"I did think we would be able to run the ball better, but we were able to run it enough and throw the ball successfully…we just had too many drive-killing penalties," Valdin said. "On defense, we gave up a lot of big plays in the first quarter, but after that I thought the defense played well.
"Our special teams just let us down."
The Tigers face another tough test Friday night when they host O. Perry Walker. The Chargers are 3-0 on the season with wins against Clark, Helen Cox and Brother Martin. In fact, the Chargers have been so impressive that Valdin says their offense reminds him of the Tigers’ most recent foe.
"They have a tremendous running back, a big offensive line and a good, tall receiver," he said. "They are very similar to Lutcher and they run a similar offense."
While the Chargers are averaging close to 37 points a game, the star of their team is on the other side of the ball.
Anthony "Freak" Johnson is an absolute terror on the defensive line. The five-star recruit is rated by some as the top lineman in the country and he has already committed to LSU.
"Freak is the best in the country and he can take a game over by himself when he wants to," Valdin said. "I think he's so successful because he has great hands. You can block him, but he doesn't stay blocked.
"He grabs guys and throws them off."
Because Ensminger is listed as day-to-day, sophomore quarterback Easton Melancon might have to make the first start of his career against one of the top defensive lineman in the country. But Valdin says he and the rest of the staff are confident in Melancon's ability.
"With Easton, we are running the same offense because he is a similar type of quarterback to Brian," he said. "Brian is bigger, but Easton is a drop-back quarterback and we have confidence in him to get the job done."
Whoever starts, Valdin believes that the winner will be determined by the team that starts with the best field position.
"We have a lot of good players, but I don't know if we have a home run hitter like we had last year," Valdin said. "All our points this season have come on long drives, so again the key to the game is going to be field position."