Hahnville head football coach Lou Valdin spent his time earlier this week catching up on household chores he neglected during the football season.
"During the season you don’t have time to do things," Valdin said. "I’d rather be coaching football than doing the stuff I am doing today – yard work."
The Hahnville Tigers (6-5) were knocked out of the regional round of the playoffs last week by the Parkway Panthers (11-1) in a dramatic contest that saw the Tigers take a late lead only to give it up with a few minutes left to go in the game in a 31-28 loss.
While Parkway is headed to the quarterfinals, Hahnville’s seniors have turned in their jerseys and most have played their last game on a football field.
"We always want to be playing Thanksgiving," Valdin said. "That makes you one of the elite teams left in the state."
Looking back on the last game, Valdin said he thought his team did well but made too many mistakes.
"Obviously the turnover in the first half hurt and we blew the coverage on the screen pass and it hurt us in the second half," Valdin said. "I thought we played well enough to win, but I don’t think we played our best ball."
However, Valdin said in looking back on the year he thinks his senior class was one of the most determined he has ever had.
"This team never quit. They played hard. From the effort standpoint they gave as good of effort as any team we’ve ever had," Valdin said. "I thought by the end of the year we were pretty much playing to our potential."
After losing the first four games of the year, the Tigers rebounded by wining six straight and capturing the District 8-5A title.
Of the four teams that Hahnville lost to in the regular season, all made it to the playoffs and three (Edna Karr, St. Augustine and McDonogh #35) won in the first two rounds and are headed to the quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 9.
Before the Tigers look forward to next year, Valdin said he still has to finish up his review of the last game.
"I’ll probably pop into the office two or three times and look at the playoff game and break it down." Valdin said.
From the breakdown of the last game, Valdin will start to get an idea of who he would like to get more involved during spring football in preparation for next year.
The team is losing 20 seniors this year including their starting quarterback, running back, No. 1 wide receiver and six out of eight players on the defensive line and linebacker units.
"That’s high school football, you always lose guys. You are always going to have seniors leave so you are rebuilding every year," Valdin said.
Valdin said injuries early on in the year probably helped the progression of a few underclassmen by giving them playing time this year.
"This last season may have helped us for this upcoming season because we had a lot of young guys come in and a lot more young guys than have played in the past," Valdin said.
At running back, junior Lynn Simmons began the year as the starter before he was sidelined during week five and senior Sergio Medina took over for the rest of the season. Valdin anticipates Simmons, who had a few big catches out of the backfield for first downs in the playoffs, will improve over his performance this year.
"He’s a total back - he can run hard, he can catch, he’s a good blocker," Valdin said. "He just wasn’t as fast as Sergio. He’ll be a year older and after a year in the weight room we think he’ll be a good back."
At quarterback, Valdin expects competition from some younger players against speedy junior Dylan Keller. Keller ran some plays this year as quarterback from the wildcat formation in addition to seeing time at running back, wide receiver and as the team’s primary return man.
"Dylan is the jack of all trades," Valdin said. "We’ve got three young guys right now. If one of the young guys steps up and is good, I could foresee us playing two quarterbacks and Dylan playing two or more positions."
Valdin said he believes his offensive line, which is only losing two starters, and his receiving corps will help take the pressure off of new faces in the rest of the offensive lineup.
On the defensive side of the ball, Valdin said he has confidence in his secondary that was full of underclassmen this year, but he will have to overhaul the front eight.
"We are going to be losing a lot on defense. We are going to be losing linebackers and three out of four on the defensive line," Valdin said.
To shore up the defensive line Valdin anticipates sophomore Shaun Benson, a 6’5 defensive lineman, will return from a knee injury that sidelined him earlier this year.
On special teams, junior kicker Craig Ford will be back. Ford kicked two long field goals in the Destrehan and St. Paul’s games for points needed in both of those wins.
"He’ll be a year stronger too so hopefully we’ll get some more touchbacks out of him," Valdin said.
Included in the off season for Valdin will be a coaching evaluation as well as opportunities for coaching development.
"The first thing we evaluate is us…coaches. So we’ll look and see what we need to change and we’ll look at our defensive scheme and our offensive scheme," Valdin said.
Valdin said his staff will attend spring football programs at different colleges for professional development.
As far as the overall team is concerned, Valdin said he will have a better idea of who his starters will be once spring football starts in January.
"We want to go out early. We want to pick our team so by February everyone will know where they are supposed to be and we’ll get started for next season," Valdin said.