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Tiger defense will be called on to stop dynamic Thibodaux offense

Kyle Barnett -   Sep 26, 2013

The Tigers' defense gave has only given up one touchdown per game during regulation to start the season off.
The Tigers' defense gave has only given up one touchdown per game during regulation to start the season off.

The difference between an undefeated Hahnville Tigers football team and one that is 1-2 going into district play this Friday against Thibodaux is two plays.

The Tigers are coming off two tough home losses, one in week two in which the Rummel Raiders scored on a desperation play with 34 seconds left in the game to take the lead and last week against Landry-Walker when Hahnville lost in overtime.

But this week is when it really starts to count as the Tigers open up district play against Thibodaux. Hahnville head coach Lou Valdin is quick to wash away the past two weeks.

"Everyone is 0-0 in district. District starts this week so we are going to concentrate on beating Thibodaux," Valdin said.

This year, both Hahnville and Destrehan find themselves in the crowded Bayou District and they will be facing off against teams they are not accustomed to, such as Thibodaux who Hahnville last played in 2004.

Thibodaux (2-1) comes into the game off of a 63-0 drubbing of Assumption that was largely led by quarterback/tailback Donta Johnson.

"Johnson is fabulous. He’s a big, strong kid. He rushed for 1,300 yards last year," Valdin said. "They scored 60 some points last week. It’s hard to score ten touchdowns on air, much less another team."

Valdin said Thibodaux has a dynamic offense and that his defense will have to stay disciplined to pull out a win.

"They try to fool you, they try to get in formations to outflank you. They run a million formations so you better line up right or else you are going to be in trouble," he said.

On the defensive side of the ball, Thibodaux caused five turnovers last week.

Valdin said the Thibodaux defense is a solid group that includes some big linemen and linebackers as well as a Division I college prospect in the secondary.

"Defensively they are a little simpler. They stay in one defense but they are very sound," he said.

In order for the Tigers to take home a win this week and get off to good start in district, they will have to minimize the mistakes.

Valdin said, particularly in the last game, his players did not stay disciplined and hurt themselves in the end.

"We’ve got to clean up the penalties," he said. "You fight too hard to give up one yard and then you pull on a facemask and give up 15. Offensively you are fighting hard to gain five yards and then you jump offsides and lose five yards."

The Tigers are planning on changing up some of their players in special teams this week.

Craig Ford will focus solely on kickoffs, field goals and extra points and will hand over punting duties to Austin Dunn. Also, a new holder and long snapper will be in place for the game to attempt to alleviate ball handling problems the team has experienced with the field goal unit.

At quarterback, Dylan Keller is still expected to be out for a few more weeks. Senior quarterback Logan Martindale is expected to get his second start of the season, but sophomore Mike Neal will likely see some snaps as well.

Tough defense has been Hahnville’s biggest asset so far this year, giving up only one touchdown per game in regulation, but Valdin said he is planning on making some tweaks to combat Thibodaux’s run attack.

"We are going to rotate a lot of guys up on the defensive line," he said. "We’ve had a couple junior varsity games so we think we can start spelling some of the starters a bit, and depending on the situation, start rotating in some of the guys on defense."

Hahnville will take on Thibodaux this Friday at 7 p.m. at Thibodaux High School.

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