Hahnville looks to eliminate mistakes in second week battle

Josh Smith Jr. pulls away from the Newman defense. (Photo by Ellis Alexander)

While the hope is always to refine things in the preseason and hit the ground running in Week 1, Hahnville was forced to juggle far more than has been ideal entering its opener at home against Newman last week.

A season-ending injury to starting quarterback Donovan Friloux left Hahnville to adjusting on the fly, and a slew of mistakes last week derailed Hahnville as Newman left Boutte with a 35-14 victory, including 21 unanswered points in the second half.

While Hahnville led that game at halftime, a four turnover first half performance kept the Tigers from truly seizing control of the game, and left the door ajar for the Greenies to do so in the final two quarters.

This week, Mandeville visits Hahnville as the Tigers look to clean things up and secure their first victory of the season.

“We can’t beat ourselves,” said Hahnville head coach Daniel Luquet. “We can’t turn it over and we can’t have costly penalties. Statistically, we dominated that game, but when you make those kinds of mistakes, then your statistics don’t matter. We’ve got to clean up the turnovers and continue to grow our play on the offensive and defensive lines. Make a team beat you.”

This Mandeville team is looking to turn things around under a new head coach. The Skippers went 3-6 last season and missed the playoffs. Hoping to rectify that is Mandeville alumnus Craig Jones, taking the head coaching helm at MHS after a very successful nine-year run at Lakeshore.

“Mandeville has been to the quarterfinals in two of the past three seasons. This year’s team is very young,” Luquet said. “Coach Jones had tremendous success at Lakeshore and he has them moving in the right direction.”

Running back Nate Sheppard keys the offense and is capable of posting an explosive night – see his four-touchdown outing in the preseason jamboree against Pearl River for an example. Luquet called senior quarterback Cooper DesRoches a player with moxie – “he’s not afraid to run it, not afraid to mix it up.”

This is a Skippers team that likes to spread the field and throw the ball. The Hahnville defense can match speed on speed with the best of them, though.

Conversely, the Mandeville defense is led by defensive back Emil Allen, who Luquet is impressed with.

“He plays all over the field,” Luquet said. “He’s a really good corner who’s not afraid to strike you.”

Nose tackle Kai Dean, meanwhile, is at the heart of the run defense.

“He’s a powerlifting kid who plays really strong up the middle,” Luquet said. “They’ll send some exotic pressures at us … Mandeville has good guys up front and they’ll do different things with them.”

Hahnville ran the ball effectively last week, and Luquet said it’s going to be very important to continue that going forward as the Tigers look to make new starting quarterback Ryan Gregson as comfortable as possible as he grows into the offense.

“Running the football, taking the pressure off of him and allowing him to gradually get into the game – it’s huge,” Luquet said.

While the team took some lumps last week, Luquet said nothing was ever going to be easy given the team’s schedule this season, but he added for this team to reach its full potential, it has to be tested.

“To be successful in the end, you have to test your kids,” Luquet said. “This isn’t the easiest schedule, and that is by design. For us, we have to own our identity – be physical up front on both sides of the ball and get our skills guys the ball on offense.”


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