Hahnville head coach Lou Valdin said his Tigers have a chance to put themselves in the driver’s seat for the District 8-5A championship if they can pull out a win over East St. John on Friday.
|Jonathan Menard/Herald Guide
|Hahnville running back Ernest Thompson carries several Bonnabel defenders with him into the end zone during the Tigers 24-15 win last Friday.
Both teams are currently 1-0 in district play after the Tigers beat Bonnabel 24-15 and the Wildcats knocked off John Ehret, 43-15.
“We have won two in a row and the big thing is that three teams are 1-0 in the district and two of them are playing each other on Friday,” Valdin said.
The other 1-0 team in district competition is Higgins, who beat Destrehan in overtime, 26-20, last week.
The Tigers played well in their first district game against Bonnabel. Hahnville drove down the field on their first series and scored on a 16-yard run by junior back Ernest Thompson.
Bonnabel got into Hahnville territory on their next possession and picked up a 4th and 3 that moved them to the Tiger 17-yard line. But a high snap flew over the head of Bruin quarterback Roy Bauer and was recovered by Hahnville’s Anthony Mott at the 46, effectively ending the Bonnabel threat.
The Tigers added their second touchdown with just 1:13 left until halftime. Senior quarterback Easton Melancon rolled right and found receiver Kailon Carter in the end zone to put Hahnville up 14-0.
Though a little more than a minute remained in the game, Bonnabel quarterback Ryan Evans broke off several long runs to the outside, stopping the clock after each one by stepping out of bounds.
Evans’ final run of the drive put Bonnabel on the 12-yard line with 2 seconds left until the break. Bruin kicker Daniel Velasquez was able to connect on a 29-yard field goal to cut into the Tiger lead, 3-14.
The Hahnville defense came alive on Bonnabel’s first drive of the second half. On third and long, Tiger junior linebacker Gabe Taylor sacked Evans on the Bruins’ 7-yard line. The following punt went only 13 yards and the Tigers got the ball at the 20.
Hahnville drove to the 3-yard line, but Melancon’s fourth down pass fell incomplete and the Tigers turned the ball over on downs.
Bonnabel took over at the 3 and marched to midfield. However, Hahnville defensive end Jamon Lathers recovered the Bruins second bad snap of the night and the Tigers began to march into Bonnabel territory.
But the drive stalled and Valdin called in sophomore kicker Craig Ford, who nailed a 45-yard field goal to put the Tigers up 17-3.
Hahnville’s final score of the night came after Jerqwinick Sandolph intercepted an Evans pass and raced 23 yards down the left sideline. On the next play, Thomspon punched it in from 9 yards out to put the Tigers on top 24-3 with 10:24 left in the game.
Valdin said that his offense played pretty well, but he was concerned that his running backs had trouble picking up yards early in the game.
“I was also a little disappointed that we got into the red zone a few times and only came away with a field goal,” he said. “We need to do a better job of converting key third downs.”
The Tiger defense also had a hard time containing Evans throughout the night, and Valdin said that both Hahnville’s pass coverage and pass rush have to improve.
“We are giving up a lot of completions,” he said. “Our pass rush also needs to get better because the quarterback is having too much time to throw the football.”
Those adjustments will need to be made in a hurry since the Tigers face one of the top quarterbacks in the state this Friday when they travel to East St. John.
In the Wildcats’ big win over John Ehret, quarterback Darion Monroe threw for 253 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 68 yards and three touchdowns.
Monroe, who is rated as the No. 7 prospect in the state by Rivals, has committed to Texas A&M as a cornerback.
“Monroe is the trigger man and they have a really good receiver in (Deszman) Broussard,” Valdin said. “Actually, all their receivers are good.”
Valdin said that East St. John seems to come out in a different offense every game, which also makes them extremely difficult to prepare for.
But for Valdin, no matter what offense ESJ comes out in the defensive game plan is still the same.
“We have to hit No. 6 (Monroe),” Valdin said. “We have to contain him and hit him.”
Defensively, East St. John is led by tackle Gerron Borne, who is ranked as the 14th best prospect in the state by Rivals. He has committed to Arizona.
“He is a big time prospect and the rest of the other guys on defense are really athletic and run to the football,” Valdin said. “We are going to have to shorten the game. When we have the football, we want to control the clock and be within striking distance in the fourth quarter.”
Valdin added that his team can’t have any turnovers.
“This has always been a game where the great playmakers from both teams have made plays,” he said. “Unfortunately, we don’t have the big playmakers, so we are going to have to shut down theirs.”
Hahnville will travel to East St. John on Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.