While most teams across the nation will gear up for spring practice in a few months, the Hahnville Tigers are already finished.
Head coach Lou Valdin opted to put his team through the off season ritual in January in order to avoid any conflict with baseball. Last year, the Tiger baseball team advanced to the semi-finals of the Class 5A state tournament, which kept several players out of football spring training.
"All of my quarterbacks are baseball guys and a few of the coaches coach baseball and football," Valdin said. "By having spring practice in January we made sure everyone could be there."
Valdin is facing a tough task by having to replace 20 seniors. Included in that number is two-year starting quarterback Easton Melancon, top receiver Kailon Carter and star running back Sergio Medina. On defense, the Tigers lost six out of eight players on the defensive line and their entire linebacking unit, including District 8-5A Defensive MVP and leading tackler Gabe Taylor.
"That’s high school football, you always lose guys," Valdin said. "You are always going to have seniors leave so you are rebuilding every year."
Valdin was impressed with the performance of several upcoming sophomores, which should provide some much needed depth on defense. Valdin said the offense was ahead of the defense in spring practice
"I thought we were really good on offense," he said. "Usually, the defense is way ahead, but the offense had a great spring."
Junior running back Lynn Simmons actually began last year as starter before losing the job to Medina. However, Valdin said Simmons has all the skills needed to shine next season.
"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."
Speedy junior Dylan Keller, who played well from the wildcat position last year, should get the nod at quarterback. Valdin said there is some competition there and if one of the younger quarterbacks steps up, Keller might play two or more positions for the Tigers.
Hahnville’s offensive line should be solid as well as they return first team All-District left tackle Hunter Perrin. Tight end Tyler Lamers should be a top target and blocking threat after finishing with eight catches and a touchdown.
While the front seven of the defense has mostly been lost to graduation, the Tigers do return defensive end Juvon Murrey, who finished the 2012 season with nine sacks. In the secondary, cornerbacks Jamal Smith and Larry Boyd will both return after receiving all-district honors last year.
Kicker Craig Ford, who nailed all 24 of his extra points and made 80 percent of his field goals, will be one of the state’s top recruits next year.
"For spring practice the big thing is evaluating (upcoming) 10th graders and finding out who can play," Valdin said. "We were able to do that and we had a pretty good spring."
|Hahnville went through spring practice in January to avoid a conflict with baseball season.|