Hahnville produced a breakthrough performance on the road at Thibodaux last week to secure its first win of the season – and in dominant fashion at 31-0, to move to 1-2. On Friday night, it returns to Tiger Stadium where a challenge awaits in non-district action.
De La Salle has emerged as one of the state’s strongest programs over the past several years, and promises to be a key litmus test for the host Tigers.
The Cavaliers are 3-1 thus far, with consecutive wins over Scotlandville and, last week, L.B. Landry. Last season, De La Salle went 9-1, with the team’s only loss coming in the Division II state championship game to St. Thomas More. DLS has reached that game to finish as state runner-up in each of the past two seasons; the Cavaliers have advanced to at least the Div. II state semifinals in each of the past five seasons.
“They’re a good program … look, that’s a battle tested team,” said Hahnville head coach Daniel Luquet. “When we scheduled this game back a few months ago, we felt like we needed to get a couple more teams with playoff experience on our schedule, to get our guys ready for what we’d see in the playoffs. They do a good job of playing with two tight, fullback, in a lot of different formations. And it’s something that our defense has to continue to get better at recognizing different formations for us to be successful moving on.
“They have talented players on both sides of the football. I think it’s a good test for us, and I think if we continue to grow every day at practice, I think it’s going to be a heck of a ballgame on Friday night.”
Senior quarterback Cole Milford passed for two scores in last week’s win, one to Jace Bienemy and another to Kentrell Molette. Running back P.J. Martin keys the ground game, and he finished last week with 120 yards and a touchdown.
Milford is plenty experienced: this is his third season as Cavs’ starter, and he’s won plenty of big games over Louisiana football royalty.
“He’s experienced every kind of big game. When you play in two state championships and state semifinals like he has, he pretty much has seen everything … there’s no moment in the game that’s too big for him. He controls the offense. He understands … an atmosphere like Tiger Stadium, as crazy as it is, it’s not going to rattle him. We have to keep him in the pocket and make him a thrower instead of a runner, and that will give us a strong chance to have success.”
He’s also going to be well-scouted – and vice versa – in this respect: the passer is the twin brother of Tigers’ middle linebacker Jude Milford.
“I think that’s going to be exciting for them … you play against your brother and that brings a lot of emotion,” Luquet said. “Of course, you understand it’s not you versus him, it’s Hahnville vs. De La Salle.”
While Cole Milford has been in place for quite a while, head coach Graham Jarrott is in his first season on the job. Jarrott is back home, an alumnus of De La Salle.
Caden Jones is a mammoth offensive tackle at 6’7, 275 lbs., who has been offered by LSU. He’s one major reason why Martin stays very busy in De La Salle’s run-heavy attack – and Martin can make great use of the running room Jones and the line affords.
“(Martin) is a phenomenal back,” Luquet said. “He does a great job pressing the hole, bounce, bounce … he does a really great job getting behind that second puller, riding it as long as he can until he sees grass and then he bounces it out … they want to run the football, control the clock and keep your offense off the field.”
Defensively, cornerback De’Ante LeBranch is a playmaker, as is linebacker Keidrick Richardson, another who has drawn an LSU offer – he received it last season as a just a 14-year-old freshman.
“(Richardson) is a good player. They leave him in the middle by himself, play a Cover 4 shell, and he plays sideline to sideline,” Luquet said. “I think they’re really good up front. I think they’ve got four guys who really have great motors. They do a lot of stunting up front and I think they work really well with each other.”
Last week saw the game Hahnville and its supporters have been waiting for from first-year starting quarterback Donovan Friloux, who drew his first two career starts against the likes of Destrehan and East St. John. He finished with four total touchdowns last week in Hahnville’s 31-0 win over Thibodaux.
So far this season, Troy Kendrick has again been the top downfield target for the Tigers, with 13 receptions for 208 yards and a touchdown. Just behind him is Titus White, who is enjoying a breakout season with eight receptions for 147 yards thus far. Running back Cole Villasenor missed last week’s game, but his two games of work pace the Tigers in rushing with 133 yards this season on 23 carries. Joshua Joseph has added 108 yards on 24 attempts.