Class Dismissed: Senior class leads defense to thrive, Hahnville back in spotlight

For Hahnville senior safety Hunter LeBlanc, this season has been everything he could ever ask for. A state championship would be the ultimate way for he and his senior teammates to go out on top.

“I’m just so proud of our team. I can’t even explain the feeling,” LeBlanc said.

LeBlanc has started since his sophomore season and has battled with his teammates to the second round and quarterfinals over the past two seasons. Now a veteran player, he said this team has a togetherness that has forged a 12-2 season and a never-say-die attitude amongst its players.

Down 21-7 last week at Acadiana, he said Hahnville’s players collectively came together and refused to lose.

“Being down, it ain’t nothing,” he said. “We told ourselves we weren’t losing. You can’t beat us, no matter who it is on the other side. We all came together as one. That hasn’t always been the case, but this team understands it.

“It’s amazing what one can accomplish when nobody cares who gets the credit. And we’re on the verge of winning a championship.”

Senior defensive end Lyncoy Reynaud is another cornerstone on a defense that shifted gears this season to Coach Nick Saltaformaggio’s preferred 3-3 stack, an aggressive, attacking defense that’s seen Reynaud flourish up front.

The storied Hahnville program has won six state championships but hadn’t been back to the Superdome since 2003. Reynaud called helping to lead his team to the state championship game one of the best accomplishments of his life.

“Seeing where we came from four years ago to where we are now, and knowing I was a part of that, I’m proud,” Reynaud said. “Our class of seniors, we felt like we brought this back to where it has to be.”

The Hahnville defense has been a stout unit this season and a major driving force behind the 11-game win streak the Tigers will ride into the Superdome Saturday night. Even in the games Hahnville has allowed a high total of yardage or points, the defense has had a knack for making adjustments and rising to the challenge at the right time.

Last week against Acadiana was one such time. The Wreckin’ Rams got off to a red hot start offensively, posting 28 first half points as the team’s Veer option offense got cranked up.

“We’d never seen anything like that,” LeBlanc said. “We heard it all week, about the Veer … ‘Fear the Veer.’ But I said at half, we have to step up and be men, and I don’t care what they run. They can run with 22 players at us. We’re gonna stop them.”

In the third and fourth quarters, Hahnville was able to limit Acadiana to one touchdown, giving the Tigers a window to close a 28-14 halftime gap to force overtime.

Reynaud also said the defense recommitted itself at halftime.

“We weren’t playing physical enough at all in the first half,” Reynaud said. “We went into halftime talking to each other and we knew if we wanted to win that game, we had to play more physical, point blank, period.”

He said the early deficit didn’t faze he or his teammates.

“No shot,” he said. “The game’s not over till it’s over, till the clock hits zero. Until then, we’re gonna give all our effort, everything we have. And (as seniors), we’re gonna make sure that’s true of our whole team.”

Reynaud said the Destrehan game was a jumping off point for a Hahnville team that was 1-2 and that has since won 11 straight games.

“We found ourselves,” he said. “We didn’t know who we were at all, but we found ourselves in that game. We were down in the dumps after losses in the second and third week, but that’s when we realized we could beat anybody if we put our minds to it.”

 

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