Faced with the prospect of falling to 0-2, Hahnville had a choice on Friday night: fold or fight.
The Tigers’ 42-41 overtime win at Tiger Stadium had few dull moments – a 7-6 game with approximately three minutes left in the first half exploded from there, with a whopping four touchdowns between the teams in the final three minutes of the half; a sensational six-touchdown game by Mandeville rusher Nate Sheppard; and a 356-yard, six touchdown rushing performance by the Tigers over six different rushers, led by Calvin Smith and Joshua Joseph.
After a 35-14 loss to Newman in Week 1, and working in a new quarterback on the fly, the Hahnville offense put on a performance that may give a young group that much more confidence to know it can win a shootout when or if one breaks out. The running game is strong, and quarterback Ryan Gregson is growing into his new role as he prepares for the third start of his career.
“You know, offensively, in the first half week one, we were doing what we needed to do for the most part, but the turnovers hurt us,” HHS head coach Daniel Luquet said. “Ryan is acclimating to the speed of the game. We’re going to get the ball out his hands quickly, run the football, run play action off of that … and one thing I’d like to see him continue that he was doing last game was to use his legs. He’s an athletic kid, when things aren’t there, take off, get what you can and use those baseball skills he has and slide.”
This week presents a new challenge on two different fronts for Hahnville. This is the first road game of the season, as HHS (1-1) prepares for its final pre-district game where it will travel to Northshore (2-0) Friday night.
“When you go on the road for the first time with a young team, you want to get them used to some things with that. But I think in a way, it can also be a plus, to not have to worry about anything but showing up, getting on the bus and playing,” Luquet said. “It’s a business trip. You show up to win a football game, get back on the bus and go back home.”
Northshore has posted a 13-0 win over Dutchtown and a 52-21 win over Salmen through two weeks. Head coach Bobby Sanders arrived from Rummel, where he served as an assistant on the Raiders’ 2019 state championship team, last season and took the helm of a program that went 3-4 in 2020. He got the Panthers back on track, and back to the program’s winning ways as it posted a 9-2 record and reached the Class 5A playoffs.
“Coach Sanders did a very good job there last season. He won a championship at Rummel, so he knows what championship pedigree looks like,” Luquet said.
Defensively, Northshore mixes things up on its front line, showing two, three and four man fronts depending on formation and personnel.
One of its top playmakers is safety Kohen Rowbatham, a safety/outside linebacker hybrid who also plays on offense for Northshore. Cornerback Kyle Williams brings size at the cornerback position, while two-way star T.J. Coleman has speed to burn.
“Kohen Rowbatham stands out. He plays both ways, he’s their Wildcat quarterback on offense. He’s one heck of a football player,” Luquet said. “Kyle Williams is a really good player … defensively, (Northshore) is sound. Their guys do a good job of playing where they’re supposed to be. You don’t beat Dutchtown and Salmen and start 2-0 for nothing.”
Offensively, James Bridges combines with Coleman to give quarterback Donovan Weilbaecher a pair of dangerous downfield targets.
In one major way, Hahnville and Northshore are quite similar teams – both have endured an injury to their starting quarterback and have needed their backup to step forward into the starting role.
“He can make some good throws,” Luquet said. “We’ll try and out some pressure on him and establish the line of scrimmage.”