The showdown of the year is here. In the final regular season game of the season, the Hahnville Tigers (4-4, 4-0) will take on the Destrehan Wildcats (4-4, 2-2) at Wildcat Stadium in Destrehan this Friday at 7 p.m.
The Tigers, who have already clinched the district championship and a playoff berth, will be playing against a Wildcat team that must win to get into the playoffs.
"They are a desperate team playing for the playoffs," Hahnville head coach Lou Valdin said. "They are going to be breathing fire. Playing at their place there is a lot of fire."
Despite the East Bank/West Bank antagonism surrounding the game, Valdin said he does not pay attention to the rivalry.
"All that rivalry stuff is for people who don’t play and don’t coach," Valdin said. "For us, we want to play better than we did against Ehret and we want to improve every week so we can advance in the playoffs. We have one more opportunity to get better before we go on the road in the playoffs."
On the offensive side of the ball, Valdin said the Wildcats are one of the better teams Hahnville will have faced all year.
"(Quarterback Donovan) Isom has tremendous command of the offense. All of their skill guys are excellent. No one has really stopped them offensively this year," Valdin said. "Isom can make all the throws. All of the receivers are really good, all of them have the ability to make a big play. There is really no ‘go to’ guy. He does a good job spreading the ball around."
Valdin said his team’s strategy to beat Destrehan is to keep Isom and the Wildcat offense off the field.
"We are going to have to run the football on them and dominate possession because their best players are on offense," Valdin said.
Valdin said the way the Wildcats play defense it may not be such a struggle to run the ball.
"They just kind of stay in one defense and try to not give up big plays," Valdin said. "They play one technique."
The Tigers have had success running the ball over the past four weeks after the starting tailback position was taken over by former linebacker Sergio Medina. During that time, Medina has put up 540 yards rushing with six touchdowns.
However, the Tigers have continued to struggle with fumbles. Against John Ehret they had four fumbles, including two into the end zone in goal line situations. One of those was recovered by their opponent for a touchback.
"We’ve told the guys just try to tuck the ball away don’t hold it over the goal," Valdin said. "Just give us a chance to run another play."
Despite Valdin’s vow to win the game by running the clock out on offense, his defense is coming off of their two best games of the year. In victories over John Ehret and Higgins, Hahnville allowed only six points.
In addition, Hahnville’s secondary has had been making big plays with at least one interception in the past three games.
However, the run defense struggled in the John Ehret game, giving up a combined 247 yards to the Patriots’ top two rushers.
Valdin said his run defense will have to tighten up against the Wildcats.
"This is the best running team that Destrehan has had in a long time," Valdin said. "Higgins and Ehret got a lot of yards running outside and that’s what Destrehan might do. We kind of got exposed and that is what we are working on this week - containing the outside running game."
Although last year the Tigers were able to take the victory in the perennial rivalry, Valdin said he has not kept track over his 33-year career of who has the most wins and losses in the matchup.
"I’m going to coach until I die and then somebody else will figure that out," Valdin said. "I know we won last year and I just hope my record against Destrehan is 1-0 after Friday."