Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio smiled when reflecting on what’s become a recent tradition, as his team wrapped up its spring practice against Mississippi’s D’Iberville Warriors — coached by his longtime friend Eric Collins — at Tiger Stadium last week.
Last year, Collins and the Warriors had the stronger performance. This year, the Tigers had the clear edge.
“He got the better of us last year, so we were able to return the favor,” Saltaformaggio said with a smile.
Saltaformaggio and Collins coached for 15 years together at Hannan and Chalmette, at both stops Collins serving as head coach and Saltaformaggio his right hand man as defensive coordinator. Saltaformaggio succeeded Collins as Chalmette head coach after the latter parted ways with the Owl program.
The two have remained close since.
“He was the best man at my wedding and I was the best man at his. We’ve known each other from about seven or eight years old,” Saltaformaggio said.
The Tigers looked sharp over much of the time the teams shared on the field. Hahnville outscored D’Iberville in situational play, spreading the scoring among several Tigers and allowing just one touchdown.
Once the teams moved to a 15 minute simulated quarter, the Tigers dominated time of possession, scoring the period’s only touchdown on quarterback Andrew Naquin’s 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Noah Zeringue.
“I thought (Naquin) threw it well. He’s got a big tight end in Noah Zeringue, a huge weapon for us,” Saltaformaggio said.
Hahnville ran the ball consistently well. Brandon Comardelle broke loose on a pair of long runs of over 40 yards in the timed quarter, while Jace Myers also made a highlight play. Daryle Evans, who enters the season as the starter, provided the muscle between the tackles.
Of course, that running back position was manned by an all-time great at the school, though Evans said he looks at following Pooka Williams as a positive.
“I definitely liked coming up behind him because I learned a lot from him,” Evans said. “And I also use it as motivation. I like having a chip on my shoulder, it makes me work harder. I felt good and played like I had a lot to prove.”
Saltaformaggio noted that Jackson wasn’t asked to carry a large load in the scrimmage himself because of a lingering hamstring issue, though he expects him to make a significant impact as a playmaker.
“It’s a good sign when you can put up as many scores (through the entirety of the scrimmage) as we did without getting your best player too involved,” Saltaformaggio said.
Hahnville did not allow a first down defensively in the quarter. D’Iberville was intercepted to end its first possession on a good defensive play by Dynell Williams, who Saltaformaggio said has had a strong spring overall. The Warriors were forced to punt on their second and final possession in the timed quarter, which was shifted to a running time format because the teams had gotten close to 75 plays in before it started.
“It’s the end of spring and you don’t want to get anyone hurt,” Saltaformaggio said. “We chewed up a lot of the time with the running game. And that’s how we’ll play. We’ll huddle up, let the clock run and run the football. That’s what we’ll do and that’s what we’re gonna do until I’m no longer coaching.”
He added he was quite pleased with the team’s overall defensive effort.
“I think this is the best we’ve been defensively in a long time,” Saltaformaggio said.
D’Iberville is a traditional power in Mississippi, Saltaformaggio noted, in the state’s 6A classification. The Warriors advanced deep into the postseason in each of the past two years.
“(Collins) went to D’Iberville because D’Iberville is a Hahnville,” Saltaformaggio said. “They’re that kind of traditional power.
“I like playing that level of team because you find out who you are. We found out we’re a pretty good football team today.”