Hahnvilleís football season came to an end on Friday after the team suffered a 49-14 loss to perennial power West Monroe in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs.
Hahnville hung with West Monroe for a quarter, but the Rebels blew the game wide open in the second by scoring 28 points on their way to the victory. West Monroe didn't even need their offense on the field in the scoring barrage, getting points on two interception returns, a 62-yard punt return and a 73-yard return on a blocked field goal.
Hahnville only trailed 14-7 to start the second and began the quarter attempting a 34-yard field goal. However, the kick was blocked and Xavier Woods returned it 73 yards in the opposite direction to give the Rebels a 21-7 lead.
On Hahnville's next series, quarterback Easton Melancon was pressured and threw an interception that was returned 45 yards by Alex Young to increase the West Monroe lead to 28-7.
Melancon's second pick-six came minutes later when he was running for his life in the backfield. Woods returned the ball 40 yards to put West Monroe on top 35-7.
The Rebels final points in the quarter came on a 62-yard punt return by Woods for his third score of the half.
"Iíve been doing this for 30 years, so Iíve seen games where you give up a big play on special teams and thatís followed by a turnover," Valdin said. "Iíve been on both sides of it."
West Monroe would add another touchdown in the final seconds of the third quarter on a short touchdown catch by Logan Murray.
Hahnville's only points came on a Jerqwinick Sandolph kickoff return to start the game and a 3-yard run by Ernest Thompson in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
Valdin said he was disappointed that his team, which came into the West Monroe game winning five of their last six games, didnít play their best.
"I would have liked to see how we matched up against West Monroe if we were playing at our bestÖI would have liked to see how we competed if we played as good against West Monroe as we had against Destrehan to end the regular season," Valdin said. "We always preach ball security and special teams, and thatís what cost us."
Though the Tigers could have easily given up at the half facing a 42-7 deficit, Valdin was proud of their performance in the third and fourth quarters.
"In the second half we tied them 7-7," he said. "Once our defense actually got to play we did really good. The guys didnít quit and they continued to play hard."
While the season ended on a bad note, the Tigers managed to capture a share of the District 8-5A championship with a 4-1 conference record. Going into the season, the Tigers were picked to finish in fifth place.
"Considering who we had to replace, I was very pleased with the effort this season and how the team hung together," Valdin said. "This was a great bunch of guys to coach. Everything is supposed to be about teaching and learning, and I was pleased with the improvement the team made every week.
"We were a much better team at the end of the regular season then we were the first game."
Hahnville returns a solid group of players on both offense and defense next season. Offensively, that includes Melancon at quarterback and Thompson at running back. Thompson led the team on the ground in 2011, finishing with 863 yards and 12 touchdowns. Melancon threw for 1,149 yards and 15 touchdowns in the regular season.
On defense, Hahnville returns first team All-District linebacker Anthony Mott along with defensive lineman Jovon Murray, linebackers Sergio Medina and Gabe Taylor and defensive back Jamal Smith, who all made the districtís second team.
The teamís kicker, Craig Ford, and punter, Brooks Vial, also return.
"We are going to be more experienced next season," Valdin said. "We still have holes to fill on offense and defense, but I think we should play much better early in the season."
|Hahnville defensive linemen Jamon Lathers, James Poree and Jovon Murray prepare to stop the power running attack of West Monroe. The Tigers played well on defense, but the unit didnít get a chance to impact the game due to turnovers and special teams play|