Hahnville must put last week’s heartbreaking loss to East St. John behind them if they hope to knock off Higgins this Friday and stay in the race for a district championship.
|Jonathan Menard/Herald Guide
|Hahnville receiver Jaylon Bryant fights for extra yardage after making a catch in the fourth quarter of the Tigers’ 21-27 loss to East St. John on Friday.
For three quarters, the Hahnville Tigers dominated East St. John at the line of scrimmage as they built up a 21-7 lead. But the Wildcats stormed back in the fourth with three unanswered touchdowns to pull out a 27-21 win that stunned the Tigers.
With Hahnville clinging to a 21-19 lead, East St. John moved the ball into Tiger territory with under two minutes left in the game. On third down, Hahnville was flagged for pass interference on a questionable call.
When one of the Hahnville coaches voiced his displeasure, a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was tagged on, giving the Wildcats the ball on the Tigers’ 8-yard line. A play later, East St. John quarterback Darion Monroe scrambled right up the middle to put his team on top 25-21 with only 1:18 left in the game.
Monroe would toss a two-point conversion for the final margin.
Valdin was upset at the call and felt that it took the outcome of the game out of the players’ hands.
“I think they should have warned us,” he said. “I don’t think they should have called that penalty at that point in the game.”
Though the Wildcats won the fourth quarter, the Tigers were impressive in the first three. With starting quarterback Easton Melancon sitting on the bench due to illness, backup quarterback Ronny Green, who is a starting receiver, got the nod.
Though Green played well, Valdin said Melancon’s absence forced the Tigers to change their game plan.
“It cut our passing game down because it took a receiver off the field,” he said. “It enabled East St. John to make adjustments in the second half where they doubled Jaylon Bryant and added another lineman.”
Before East St. John was able to make those adjustments, the Hahnville offense got off to a good start.
Green marched the Tigers down the field after Hahnville recovered a fumbled punt return and then found tight end Cody Morales up the middle to move the Tigers to the East St. John 14-yard line. Green would score two plays later on a 1-yard run to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
Four minutes later, Green again was the catalyst on the Tigers next scoring drive, finding Jaylon Bryant in the end zone to put Hahnville up 14-0 with 3:35 left in the first quarter.
East St. John put together a nice drive a series later that ended with a 6-yard touchdown run by Jalen Kenner. However, the Tigers’ special teams unit would strike again in the second quarter.
With East St. John punting from the shadow of their own end zone, the Tigers blocked the kick and recovered the ball in the end zone to give Hahnville a 21-7 lead.
The Tiger defense was impressive from that point on and applied constant pressure on Monroe throughout the second and third quarters. The talented quarterback was rarely able to pick up positive yardage on his runs and his receivers couldn’t hold on to any of his passes. Monroe was sacked five times in the game.
“No one has been able to get to Monroe this season and we were able to get to him with a four-man rush,” Valdin said. “I was very pleased with that.”
The Tiger defense will need another similar effort if they hope to control Higgins and quarterback Cedric Jackson. Jackson has led the Hurricanes to a 5-1 overall record and a 2-0 mark in district.
“Their quarterback is similar to Monroe and he is the trigger man of their offense,” Valdin said. “They run the football well with their big back and they are very big and physical.
“They are a smash-mouth football team.”
Valdin said his team’s defensive game plan against Higgins will be similar to last week’s plan for East St. John.
“We have to shutdown the quarterback because he makes everything go,” he said.
On defense, Higgins is led by returning starters at end Gerald Brent and Brandon Smith along with tackle Paul Courtney.
“On defense they have good size, they are very physical and run to the ball well,” Valdin said.
Valdin said his team will have to have success in the running game to open up the play action pass so that they can mix things up. However, he said the game will be won through field position and turnovers.
“They like to run and we like to run, so both of us are going to burn the clock when we have the ball,” he said. “It’s going to come down to field position and turnovers. Our kicking game is going to be very important.”
Hahnville host Higgins this Friday. Kick off is set for 7 p.m.