Hahnville, Brother Martin battle to right respective ships

It’s relatively rare that one will see two storied programs face off with each coming off a loss.

But as Hahnville prepares to host Brother Martin Friday night, that’s the situation each team finds itself in, promising an intense, physical clash as each squad attempts to right the ship. The Tigers (1-1) came up just short in a late rally at John Ehret last week, while Brother Martin (0-2) fell to Warren Easton, 29-0, at Tad Gormley Stadium.

“I don’t ever remember seeing Brother Martin start a season 0-3, so I know right then and there we’re gonna get their A-game this Friday night,” said Hahnville head coach Nick Saltaformaggio. “When you have programs that are used to winning, you’re not usually playing a game where both are coming off a loss. But both played quality opponents. I think this is gonna be a heck of a football game.”

Neither side will lack for any sort of motivation. For Brother Martin, the prospect of going 0-3 isn’t one the Crusaders are apt to embrace. Nor is it an attractive prospect for Hahnville to enter its Week 4 district opening matchup with rival Destrehan on the back of two consecutive losses.

“I remember being told when I got into coaching, the most important game you play is the one coming off of a loss,” Saltaformaggio said. “We know what we’re up against in the next two weeks and we know it’s important we don’t come out of this stretch 1-3. It’s just another game for us where two good football teams are gonna take that field, and hopefully we come out with one more point than they do.”

Saltaformaggio said slowing Brother Martin quarterback John-Paul Pierre will be a primary goal for his defense. Pierre has several weapons to choose from offensively, including receivers Brady Faust, Michael Faust and Erick Lassair. Pierre completed 10 of 19 passes last week for 133 yards.

The Crusaders found little running room on the ground against Warren Easton, one of the top defensive teams in the area. But Saltaformaggio says he expects the Crusaders to bring the physicality, and that his team must respond in kind.

“They’re very big and they’re going to show you a lot of different looks, different formations,” he said. “We have to line up right defensively. On the defensive side of the ball for them, it’s typical Brother Martin, they get after you at the point of attack.”

One of Brother Martin’s defensive leaders is middle linebacker Jabari Watts, who Saltaformaggio compared favorably to Tre’Von Honor, Hahnville’s former run-stopping linebacker who was a senior in 2016.

“He brings a lot of toughness,” Saltaformaggio said, also noting safety Matthew Alfonso as a playmaker on that side of the ball for the Crusaders.

Last Friday, a potential late go-ahead drive by Hahnville came up short at Hoss Memtsas Stadium Friday night as John Ehret captured a victory in a shootout, 46-41.

The Tigers (1-1) were unable to avenge their loss to the Patriots last postseason despite a dominant rushing effort keyed by Anthony Williams and Jha’quan Jackson, who combined for six scores on the ground.

Both teams ran the ball extremely well, with Terrell Brown leading the way for the Patriots (1-1) with 133 yards and three touchdowns. After a defensive struggle through the first quarter and a half, both teams exploded offensively from there, the rest of the night filled with explosive plays from scrimmage and on special teams.

“They put us out of the playoffs last year … it was personal for me,” Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio said. “Our kicking (coverage) game let us down. You tell me I’d lose tonight because of (that) I’d have called you a liar … I told them when the fourth-ranked team in the city plays the sixth-ranked team in the city, somebody’s going to walk out of here happy and somebody’s going to walk out of here sad. We’re walking out of here sad but we’ve got a lot of football left to play.”

With stops at a premium, it seemed the first team to hold the other defensively would be the victor. Hahnville came up with a big stop with just under five minutes left to play after a tackle for loss by Logan Robert and a sack by Adonis Friloux forced a Patriots punt, with Hahnville trailing 46-41.

HHS drove to the John Ehret 39 with less than two minutes remaining and faced a fourth-and-one. Jackson ran up the middle on a quarterback keeper but found no running room, and Ehret took over on downs. The Patriots ran out the clock from there.

Ehret made two major plays in the return game in the second half, with Deron Coleman taking the opening kickoff of the second half back for six and later making a 70-yard return to set up another score.

“I thought we were gonna play well defensively, but you can’t give John Ehret 50 yard fields and we did,” Saltaformaggio said.

Williams finished with 172 yards on the ground and three touchdowns on 19 carries. Jackson rushed for 146 yards and three scores of his own on 27 attempts. Jamel Byrd led HHS in receiving with 34 yards.

Brown’s 9-yard touchdown run with 7:32 left in the fourth quarter proved the eventual winning points, putting Ehret ahead 46-34 at the time.

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