The Hahnville Tigers were eliminated from the playoffs last week by way of a 35-14 loss to St. Thomas More, who is considered the front-runner in the 2010 state championship race.
|Treval Dunmiles (left) and Linzell Rhodes (right) sit on the bench in the waning seconds of Hahnville’s 35-14 loss to No.2-seed STM last Friday.
Now, the Tigers will feature a new look next year as they replace 25 seniors and enter a new district.
St. Thomas More looked like they were going to blow the Tigers away in the first half, as the Cougars quickly scored 21 straight points to start off the game. On their first series, quarterback Matthew Flores broke through the Hahnville line and hugged the left sideline for a 60-yard run. On the next play, Joe Oliver LaPrairie ran around the Tiger defense for a 28-yard score that gave STM a 7-0 advantage with 6:22 left in the first quarter.
It would take the Cougars less than a minute to add to that lead.
With Hahnville facing a 1st and 10 at their own 21, quarterback Brian Ensminger was intercepted by Jeremy White, who returned it 23 yards to make the score 14-0 with 6:07 left in the first quarter.
The Cougars’ final touchdown of the half came with just 20 seconds left in the opening quarter when Samuel Scofield returned an Ahmad White punt 65 yards to make the score 21-0.
Hahnville head coach Lou Valdin said he was disappointed that his team didn’t really get a chance to play defense in the first half.
“They got a pick 6 and then scored on the punt return…so that’s 14 points that our defense didn’t get a chance to defend,” he said. “The punt return was especially frustrating because we knew they run every punt to their sideline and we knew they would form a wall, but we didn’t get in there.”
The Tigers drove to the Cougar 1-yard line toward the end of the second quarter, but they were called for a false start and delay of game. Ensminger’s fourth-down pass was incomplete.
“That was huge,” Valdin said. “If we had scored there we would have been back in the game.”
The Tiger defense did hang tough throughout the game - especially in the second quarter when they applied pressure to STM’s passing quarterback Brandon Bourgeois. Their intensity set the stage for the second half.
The Tigers’ first scoring drive was set up by an interception from Linzell Rhodes. Hahnville started at their own 29 and methodically drove down the field using some quarterback scrambles from Ensminger combined with solid power runs from White. Ensminger would eventually score on a 1-yard sneak with 4:34 left in the third.
After that, neither offense had much success, but the Tiger defense came through once again.
With STM punting from their own 21, cornerback Tyren Hills blocked the ball, which bounced into the waiting arms of Jerqwinick Sandolph. Sandolph ran untouched into the end zone to bring the Tigers to within a touchdown at 21-14.
But that’s as close as Hahnville would get.
Flores picked up 38 yards on a 3rd and 11 play in the fourth quarter, and then scored on a 25-yard run to put STM on top 28-14.
LaPrairie then put the game away with a 28-yard score with three minutes left to play.
“When we had a chance to play defense in the second half, we played well for the most part,” Valdin said. “We got some turnovers and scored on the blocked punt, but we didn’t take enough advantage of them.”
Valdin was especially frustrated that his team lost their composure in the second half, with unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that completely took away their momentum.
“That’s what broke our backs,” he said. “There is no excuse for unsportsmanlike penalties. Holding, pass interference and aggressive penalties like that are going to happen, but there is no excuse for unsportsmanlike penalties.”
Tigers will have new look in future
Twenty-five athletes played their last game as a Hahnville Tiger on Friday night, and most of them were major contributors this season. The defense will be hit especially hard by graduation.
The Tigers will lose their entire starting linebacker unit, including Ben Taylor, Brody Bourg, Linzell Rhodes and Treval Dunmiles, who was moved to fullback late in the season. All four players had started for at least two years and will be sorely missed. Defensive linemen Jordan Thompson and Jontrell Lockett also played a big part in the Tigers’ success this year, as did Eric Simpson, who spent time on both the defensive and offensive lines.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Tigers will lose almost all of their skill players, including quarterback Brian Ensminger, running back Ahmad White and receivers Dontrell Strickland and Derek Howard. Offensive linemen Alex Brown, Alvin Kelly and Cole Walker will also graduate this year, as will kickers Austin Fremen and Hunter McDonald.
“All of our seniors were hard workers who cared about Hahnville football,” Valdin said. “But that’s what happens in high school football…you get them for two or three years and they move on.
“Our biggest concern next year will be finding receivers and defensive linemen.”
The Tigers will also have some new opponents next year after district realignment. Hahnville, who will be in District 8-5A, will continue to play Destrehan and East St. John, but will also face Bonnabel, John Ehret and Higgins.
The new district does have a downside for Hahnville, as Valdin says they will have to find a new opponent to open up the season.
“We have been playing Ehret for our first game, but since they are in our district we will have to find someone else, so this does mess up scheduling,” he said. “I wasn’t too happy with it, but that’s where they put us so that’s where we will play.”