The Hahnville Tigers emerged victorious and secured bragging rights in St. Charles Parish's most anticipated game of the year as they defeated the Destrehan Wildcats 35-14 on Friday. But, as big as that game was to the fans and the players, the Tigers have a much more daunting task this week facing the No. 3 Dutchtown Griffins.
|Hahnville wide receiver Derek Howard turns up field after making a catch against Destrehan last week. After beating their rival, the Tigers will find out just how good a team they are when they battle Dutchtown on Friday.
Tiger Head Coach Lou Valdin wants to put the Destrehan victory behind him and focus on the task at hand.
"To me the Destrehan game is just another game," Valdin said. "We got power points and most importantly, we won a district game. I know it means a lot to the fans, but we have to put all of the hoopla behind us and focus on our next district game."
The Tiger offense was running on all cylinders from their first offensive play Friday night when quarterback Brian Ensminger found tight end Desvon Joseph for a 70-yard connection. Running back Ahmad White closed out the drive with a short touchdown run, and was the driving force behind the offense the rest of the game.
White finished with 224 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He even connected a 21-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Dontrell Strickland on a trick toss play.
"Ahmad was a quarterback in junior high," Valdin said. "That allowed us to install a wildcat formation in our offense and do some other things with him."
White has been instrumental to the Tigers' success this season, especially when Ensminger has been banged up.
"Ahmad helped us out early in the season when the offensive line was struggling," Valdin said. "He went out there and kind of made things happen himself. Now that the line is getting better, he's getting more yards."
After two White touchdown runs and his touchdown pass, Ensminger got in on the scoring late in the second quarter with a short touchdown pass to wide receiver Derek Howard to make it 28-0.
Destrehan would score a last second touchdown at the end of the first half and another at the end of the third quarter, both long passes from quarterback Dillan Dent to wide receiver Rickey Jefferson. That brought the Wildcats within two touchdowns at 28-14. But the Tiger defense tightened up and held the Wildcats the rest of the way.
In the second half, Ensminger left the game with a leg injury after being taken down as he was scrambling to his right. Valdin says that it will be a game-time decision whether Ensminger will play or if the Tigers will turn to backup Easton Melancon. But if Ensminger cannot go, Valdin says that he has complete confidence in the sophomore.
Dutchtown will most likely attempt to exploit the quarterback situation this Friday, a fact that Valdin is keenly aware of.
"We expect a lot of pressure coming at us," he said. "They expect us to be playing with a one-legged quarterback or a new guy, and they're going bring a lot of people in the box and come after us. But if we can protect, we can get guys open and get the ball down the field."
Valdin is also aware of the importance of the game.
"I'm fired up for this game," he said. "We both still have to play East St. John, but the winner of this game is in the driver's seat for the district championship. It's also a great measuring stick for us. If we want to get into the playoffs and go to the dome, we have to beat this type of team. If we win, we're for real. If not, we'll try to fix what went wrong so we can win the next big game."
Dutchtown is 7-0 and has blown out Destrehan and St. Amant in its first two district matchups. The key to their success is a very strong running attack led by running back Effrem Reed and quarterback Leon Blouin.
"Those two guys are Division-I big time players," Valdin said. "Reed is lightning fast and Blouin is a real strong running quarterback who is really hard to take down."
How does Valdin plan to stop these forces of nature? By keeping them off of the field.
"The best thing we can do to stop them is limit their possessions," he said. "It's the same thing the Saints did to Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl. They can't hurt you if they're sitting on the bench."
The Tigers face the Griffins in Dutchtown this Friday night at 7 p.m.