At 2-3 and winless through two games of District 7-5A play, Hahnville will be hungry for a win this Friday night at home against Thibodaux.
But the Tigers’ record belies how well the team has played at many points through the first half of the season. Hahnville’s losses have come to a trio of teams sporting a combined 14-1 win-loss record in 4-1 Newman, 5-0 Destrehan and 5-0 East St. John, and last week’s 33-24 loss to ESJ showed equal parts how far the Tigers have come thus far and where there is still much progress to be made.
“Last week, I thought we threw the ball a little better than we have in the past,” said Hahnville head coach Daniel Luquet. “Ryan (Gregson) did a good job of finding our receivers for some good gains. Our offensive line continues to get better. Our running backs, you know these are guys we really lean on, but I thought that wasn’t the best game they’ve had … the one thing we talk about on both sides of the ball is being more physical. And there are times in games that we take punches, but don’t punch back. And when we finally do sometimes, it’s too late.”
Luquet said penalties have been a problem that’s made life difficult and short-circuited too many drives. This is a Tigers’ team that has to find a way to sustain drives more consistently, lest the team’s defense be forced to play too many snaps and fatigue as games progress, a problem that’s manifested in each of the past two weeks.
“Penalties killed us. We’re not good enough to go play a first and 22, or a third and 15 … we need to get into manageable third down situations, third and 3 or 4. Against East St. John, we didn’t play as well as we needed to in the first half. We left our defense on the field too long and when you get into the 4th quarter, where they make a long drive that puts us away, (the number of defensive snaps) hurts you,
Thibodaux comes into Friday night’s game with a 1-4 record, 0-1 in District 7-5A. Last week, the Tigers suffered a 45-21 loss to E.D. White. Thibodaux’s lone district battle thus far resulted in a 57-26 loss to East St. John.
Ean Rodrigue was an All-District 7-5A selection as an athlete last season, while running back Demarcus Singleton is a dangerous weapon out in space.
“(Singleton) wasn’t on the team last year. I believe he and his family moved due to Ida, and they’re back now. He’s a very good player and they move him all over the place, so you have to be aware of him. (Rodrigue) is a two-year starter who can take off and run and beat you with his arm. Their wide receivers make plays and do a good job filling each of their respective roles … they’ve scored a lot of points this year and they’ve done it against some really good teams.”
Defensively, Thibodaux likes to mix things up.
“They’ll run three man, four man fronts and they’ll bring pressure,” Luquet said. “They do a good job playing complementary football between their offense and defense. They don’t have that one standout player, but collectively they play really good team defense and they fly to the ball. It’s a young team that’s getting better every week, so it’ll be a good test for us.”
EARLY START – For a historic 5A power like Hahnville, it can be a tough road to crack significant playing time as a sophomore, but Calvin Smith has the skills that’s made it a reality.
Smith is second on the Tigers in rushing yardage with 239 on 53 carries (to Joshua Joseph’s team-high 322 yards) and leads the team in touchdowns with six. He’s also shown he can do damage when called upon in the receiving game, adding 75 yards on three catches.
“Calvin got some valuable experience last year as a freshman,” said Luquet. “The spotlight isn’t too big for him. He’s a two-sport athlete in basketball and football, and I think when you play multiple sports, that makes you a better player.”
Luquet said the 198-pound rusher is a standout in the weight room and his instincts are strong at a young age.
“He’s fast, he’s powerful and he runs behind his pads. He understands the blocking aspect of the sport. If you can block and you can run, you’re going to get on the field. He’s a prototypical three-down back.”
But part of what makes Smith, as well as fellow rushers Joshua Joseph and Chase Brooks so effective, is each brings fresh legs to the equation with no one back having to carry the full load.
“Each guy gets about 15 carries, and those are fresh carries,” Luquet said. “That makes each guy all that much more dangerous.”