When the new season kicks off against the Salmen Spartans in Slidell this Friday, the Hahnville Tigers football team will get their first real test of a new offense that was put in during the offseason.
Hahnville unveiled the new shotgun spread-style look, built around the skill set of speedy senior quarterback Dylan Keller, last week in a lopsided win over St. James. The Tigers beat St. James 37-13 using an aggressive running attack led by Keller and senior running backs Lynn Simons and Todge Scott.
The running attack was so strong that a virtually non-existent passing game, with Keller going 1-for-2 in passing on the night, was not a concern for head coach Lou Valdin.
"We didn’t want to throw. We went into the jamboree wanting to run the football," Valdin said.
Simmons in particular had a masterful performance against St. James, scoring two rushing touchdowns and racking up numerous first downs before going down with an injured knee.
Valdin said it is still too early to determine if Simmons would be ready to go against Salmen, but he feels his backups should serve well if called upon.
"Scott can’t hit in there like Simmons can, but I feel confident that he and (Mikquel) Chest can get the job done," he said. "If we have to run inside we have two big fullbacks so I think we’ll be OK."
Salmen is coming off a 9-2 district championship season and are returning key players. Although the Spartans fell hard in a 40-6 jamboree loss versus John Curtis, Valdin said they look to be a good team again this year.
"There are a typical Salmen team. They play very, very good and they play very hard," he said. "They’ve got a great running back and an All-District quarterback back (Ray Crochet). Defensively they are very sound."
One key advantage Hahnville may have is that Salmen plays their best players on both offense and defense and they may lose a step by the end of the game.
Valdin said Hahnville may also be able to take advantage of senior placekicker Craig Ford’s abilities. Ford kicked a number of touchbacks last week and showed that he will have no problem stepping in as punter for the first time as well.
"We have to win the kicking game," Valdin said.
Although Hahnville’s defense features an overhauled defensive line and linebacker unit, outside of a few long gains on the ground by St. James, they held tight last week.
However, Valdin said his defense stills needs to progress before the season opener.
"We still have some things to work on, but I think for the most part they played fair," he said. "They made some mistakes. They’ve got to stay in their gaps more and things like that."
Just as he is looking at fielding a better defense this week, Valdin said incremental improvement week in and week out will be the key to a good season.
"Right now it doesn’t matter who you play, it’s how you play," Valdin said. "Right now we want to play better every week until we get into district."
|Hahnville running back Todge Scott evades numerous tacklers to get the offense in scoring position at the Ed Reed River Parishes Jamboree.|