Hahnville offense, defense clicking at perfect time
The Hahnville Tigers may have taken a little time to get rolling in their last regular season game of the year, but once they did, there was no stopping them.
The Tigers fought back from a 13-6 deficit with some strong defensive play and an impressive performance from quarterback B.J. Young to bomb the St. Amant Gators 50-20. The win improved Hahnville's season record to 8-2 and gave them the 11th seed in the 5A playoffs.
"I thought we played well, especially in the second half," Hahnville head coach Lou Valdin said. "We were playing a team that was desperate for a win and we knew they were going to come at us hard. We weathered the storm and got the win."
St. Amant did indeed come out firing in the first half, with the Gators scoring on their first two possessions to take an early 13-6 lead. However, St. Amant's trickery soon caught up with them. After a pair of huge defensive stops by the Tigers, the Gators attempted a fake punt on fourth down. Again, The Hahnville defense responded to the challenge by knocking upback Timmy Poche back six yards.
Though the Hahnville offense didn't take advantage of the superb field position at that point, the ability of punter Brandon Larousse to pin the Gators inside the 10-yard line eventually led to a 1-yard touchdown sneak by Young.
St. Amant was able to re-take the lead shortly after, due in large part to a 75-yard kickoff return, but Young then capped a 94-yard scoring drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Laron Byrd, which brought the Tigers within one.
From that point on the Tigers dominated. Young connected on his third touchdown on the night by hitting Lauren White in stride to close the first half, then put a little more padding on the lead with a following touchdown pass to Byrd, who finished with three touchdowns, to start the third.
Greg Julien and Reggie Johnson then sealed the game with two more scores.
The four touchdown passes by Young gives him 26 on the year, putting him only three behind LSU's Ryan Perrilloux for most in River Parishes history.
"I am very proud of our quarterback," Valdin said. "He is having a great season."
With the regular season behind them, Hahnville will now prepare to host 22nd-seeded Huntington, who is 6-4 on the year. And because of their great regular season, the Tigers will be playing that game at home.
"It's big to host a first-round playoff game," Valdin said. "The first playoff game is important because it's different. Everyone knows that one loss means they're going home, so it's important to play on familiar territory in front of our fans.
"The farther you go, the less important it is to be at home."
And while some coaches will complain about the seedings, Valdin is pleased with the process. However, that doesn't mean he wouldn't like to see a change.
"I think it's a great system, even though it didn't benefit us much," Valdin said. "I would like to see them put more emphasis on overall record instead of schedule strength, but it's still the best system in the county."
Overall, four teams from Hahnville's district made the playoffs. Rival Destrehan received the No. 1 seed, while East St. John is 12th and Dutchtown is 20th.
While the Tigers may be playing at home for the first round, that doesn't mean the contest will be a cakewalk. Their opponent, Huntington, runs a two-quarterback system that can be difficult to stop. Their defense isn't too shabby either.
"They are very good, very athletic, and they are gigantic on defense," Valdin said. "On offense, one quarterback is lightning fast, while the other has a cannon for an arm. The key to the game will be stopping the option and forcing them to throw.
"Plus, we have to win every opportunity on special teams. We have an advantage there."
If Hahnville makes it through the first round, they will take on the winner of 6th seeded Arch. Rummel and 27th seeded Thibodaux.Destrehan takes No. 1 seed into playoff showdown
The Destrehan Wildcats didn't display much offense in their 9-7 win over Dutchtown, but that victory not only assured the team of their second undefeated season in school history, but also gave them the No. 1 seed in the 5A playoffs.
And that's all that really matters.
"The most important thing through this whole deal is the seeding going into the playoffs," Destrehan head coach Stephen Robicheaux said. "Winning district was also big for our team, but the most important thing was getting the No. 1 seed."
But finishing undefeated isn't always enough to give a team a No. 1 seed. In fact, last time the Wildcats went undefeated in 2001, they were given the 6th seed. But this year's strong district, which included playoff-bound teams Hahnville, East St. John and Dutchtown, pushed the Wildcats over the edge.
Now, their path to the 5A state crown should be easier than anybody else’s.
"We play No. 32 and I don't know if that's the best draw because West Jefferson is a formidable opponent, but this sets you up to be on top of the bracket and hopefully it will give you a good draw throughout the playoffs," Robicheaux said. "This is the first time I ever remember Destrehan being a No. 1 seed and I've been here for 16 years."
But while the team has recorded one of their season goals, reaching that accomplishment wasn't easy.
The Wildcats had to pull out all the stops to pick up their 9-7 season-ending win over Dutchtown, largely because they kept giving the ball to their opponent.
The Wildcats fumbled on their first two possessions and only ended up netting 64 yards on the ground. Thankfully, quarterback Jordan Jefferson kept his team hanging around by connecting on 13 of his 19 passes for 139 yards.
His scrambling ability also paid off for the Wildcats by moving kicker Ryan Rome a little closer for his 30-yard, game-winning field goal.
Then, it was up to the Destrehan defense to do the rest.
Dutchtown running back Eddie Lacy, who rushed for 115 yards in the contest, pushed his team past midfield with under two minutes left in the contest only to be stripped by Darrow Barnes. Chris Richard, who had already scored on a 52-yard fumble recovery, then scooped up the ball to secure the Destrehan win.
"I thought defensively we played real well, but we struggled on offense," Robicheaux said. "We committed too many turnovers and too many penalties, but defensively we held their two backs and played real well. That was big for us to win the football game."
While that game may have been a thriller, Destrehan has already put it behind them as they prepare to play West Jefferson Friday night.
"They are a scrappy team and it's hard to know where they are going to line up on defense because they do a lot of different things," Robicheaux said of the 5-5 West Jefferson squad. "They use a lot of different defensive looks and blitzes and they are athletic. That makes it hard to gameplan for them."
Another thing Destrehan does have going for it, besides their amazing talent level, is that West Jefferson is coming off of a pair of tough losses to John Ehret and Higgins.
"They have lost their last two games, but those were to two really good teams," Robicheaux said. "The only good thing is that you are catching them after losing two in a row."
Plus, the Wildcats will also be playing on their home turf.
"You like to play at your house and we are excited for our kids," Robicheaux said. "They get to come out 10-0 and play in front of their fans and there is no doubt that's big. I think we'll get a good crowd here so were excited."
But if the Wildcats hope to make it past the first round, their offense has to come out firing.
"There is no doubt we have to play better on offense," Robicheaux said. "Now, you have 32 teams and they all have one goal; to win the state championship."
|Photos by Jonathan Menard, Design by Kevin Orgeron|