Spring was in the air at Tiger Stadium in Boutte Saturday morning, and Hahnville celebrated the best way it knows how – with a strong performance.
The Tigers outscored visiting South Lafourche three touchdowns to one in a 15-minute timed quarter during the spring game action between the two teams, while the Tigers also generated several explosive plays in the earlier action that involved several series of predetermined play count sets – for example, each first team would get 10 plays against the first team of the other side, then vice versa, then the second teams, and so on.
Junior Donovan Friloux impressed in his first action as Hahnville starting quarterback, accounting for two of the Tigers’ three touchdowns in the timed quarter, one on a run and one on a pass to Troy Kendrick, the team’s top returning target. He also found Kendrick for a 70-yard bomb during the play set portion, as well as on a 10-yard pass to Titus White for a score.
“This is something I’ve wanted since I was six-years-old,” Friloux said of being Hahnville’s quarterback. “It’s been my dream and it’s a great honor … I think we’re a pretty good team. We have a lot of talent here. We just have to grind every day, show leadership, and we’ve got a shot to make a pretty good run in this.”
While Daniel Luquet is preparing for his second season as Hahnville’s head coach, this spring represents his first in that role, as COVID-19 forced the cancellation of spring practice last season. He said he is eager to build on what the team began last season, and thinks the additional work can go a long way toward establishing a foundation and culture.
“(Last year), when you show up June 8 and you have six different groups meeting throughout the day, you just can’t implement what you want. We really couldn’t until the season was over,” Luquet said. “This is a special place where expectations are high, and not just in terms of winning football games, but how you conduct yourself in the community, in the classroom and on this football team. So having that time with them is important, to establish and hammer home what those expectations are.”
Hahnville is working through some significant personnel turnover from last season, particularly on offense. Kendrick is back, as is fellow 2020 starting wide receiver Dakota Williams, who did not play in the scrimmage due to injury. But gone are wideout Corey Lorio, running back Trey LaBranch, tight end Collin Zeringue and four of the team’s five offensive line starters from a year ago.
“Replacing as many weapons as we’ve had to, we knew we’d have to see whether we could keep doing what we’ve been doing on offense or if we’d have to adapt it a bit to the strengths and weaknesses we have now,” Luquet said. “That’s not something we’ve completely answered yet, but I feel very good about where we are at this point.”
While LaBranch was the team’s workhorse in the backfield last season, this year the Tigers may see several players mixed in and out at tailback, including junior Joshua Joseph, who scored on a 10-yard run in the latter stages of the timed quarter. Cole Villasenor also figures to play a prominent role, LaBranch’s top backup last season who got significant playing time following the latter’s late season injury.
Defensively, Cincere Simmons and Chris Scott return and anchor the squad up front. Simmons recorded a pair of sacks on the day, one in the timed quarter and another in the set play portion, both of which short-circuited South Lafourche drives. Both will be vital against the run and pass as the team moves back to a four-man front primarily on defense.
“Cincere and Chris, those are our guys returning on the line, the guys who have to take it upon themselves to find that second gear and third gear to make that big play when (the opposition) is moving,” Luquet said.
He said he was also pleased with the growth shown by the secondary, a unit that suffered from lapses a season ago that Luquet feels were partially due to a mixture of inexperience and lack of preseason reps together.
“I thought they played really, really well today,” said Luquet. “It was a concern coming off of last year. We had a bunch of new guys and a lack of reps and practice, and they struggled throughout the year. Today, they were communicating with one another and did a good job talking on the back end.”
Hahnville began the timed quarter with a stop of South Lafourche, a three-and-out. The offense made it count and drove inside the 10 before Friloux took the ball in for a touchdown on a quarterback keeper, making it 7-0 with 9:17 left.
“He’s unique,” said Luquet. “He gives you the ability to make throws not all quarterbacks can. And then he adds to your running game … not just the scrambling or making plays out of nothing, but on designed runs … when you add the quarterback to the mix there, it widens the box and for a young offensive line, that gives them the opportunity to be more successful.”
The Tarpons found some footing on their next drive and marched into Hahnville territory before coming up short of points, turning the ball over on downs at the Tigers’ 39. Two plays later, Friloux dialed up Kendrick for a 60-yard touchdown strike to make it 14-0 with 5:45 left.
Simmons ended South Lafourche’s next drive after forcing a fumble on a sack, recovered by Hahnville. The Tigers cashed in on Joseph’s touchdown run a short time later, putting things away. The Tarpons drove to score on the final play of the morning.