There was a great deal of energy in Tiger Stadium on Friday, midway through Hahnville’s spring practice schedule – and for good reason.
As the Tigers offense and defense scrimmaged against one another in the team’s annual “Burger Bowl,” to the winner would go the spoils, that in this case being the tastiest dinner. On Friday, it was the offense getting to chow down on some delicious hamburgers, while the defense had to settle for the consolation prize, baloney sandwiches, courtesy of a 41-37 victory.
Quarterback Donovan Friloux sealed the win for the offense when he took off on a keeper and gained a big chunk of yardage, but more importantly garnered the first down needed for his side to be able to kneel out the clock for the win with just over a minute left.
“We kind of saw they’re going to blitz the whole house, so I told my running back, they’re sending two off the edge, so this is probably a give to you, if not I’m gonna house it,” said Friloux, preparing for his second season as Hahnville’s starting quarterback. “I didn’t house it, but I got the first and that was big with the time that was left.”
The scrimmage was structured as four 15 -minute quarters, with both sides able to accumulate points through several different avenues – in addition to touchdowns, offensive first downs added up, as did sacks, tackles for loss, turnovers and forced punts for the defense.
The first, second and third teams all saw action at different portions.
“We’ve got 101 guys out here this year, and we were excited to see them in action,” said Hahnville head coach Daniel Luquet, who is gearing the team up for what will be his third season leading the program. “They were flying around the football today, communicating, having fun … we got good work in, and that’s what it’s all about. You get to see the growth you’ve made in your offseason program, and a look at what they can do on the football field under the lights, in front of a little crowd.”
While the offense led the defense most of the way, the defense stayed within striking distance throughout – the two sides were tied at halftime after defensive coordinator Carey Melvin called a heads-up time out just before time expired, forcing the offense to run one more play which resulted in a turnover on downs, and the extra points to go with it.
When the first teams were on the field, the defense had the advantage for much of the way, led by a veteran secondary and a front seven anchored by defensive end Cincere Simmons.
But the first group on offense got some traction in the fourth quarter against the second team defense when Friloux led his group on its best drive of the night, one capped by a 10-yard strike by the passer to Josh Smith for a touchdown. That made it 40-27 with 7:27 left.
The defense found some life, however, on the back of a deflection and interception by defensive lineman Deontre Young, cutting the offense’s lead to six. But the first team was able to clinch the win on Friloux’s run.
Tashawn Butler scored on a 12-yard touchdown run and fellow running back Calvin Smith got loose on a breakaway 35-yard score.
Luquet said he’s eager to see what the offensive unit is capable of in the upcoming season, with a talented stable of backs, an experienced group of receivers and Friloux in his second starting campaign.
One area the team must work quickly to develop is along the offensive line, where four new starters must emerge.
“Just seeing how physical they are, how they run block and pass block … we’ve got a lot of guys rotating in,” Luquet said. “We’re trying to figure out who it’s going to be.”
Dakota Williams, who missed most of last season due to injury, is rehabbed and back to 100 percent, Luquet said, though he was held out of the scrimmage for precautionary reasons.
Defensively, Friloux was impressed with what he saw on the other side, and added there’s still much work to be done for the offense.
“It felt good to get out here,” Friloux said. “We still have a lot to do, though. We played against a really good defense today … I didn’t think I played too well throughout. We kind of put things together (on the late touchdown drive), things I was looking for to come open, came open, and that was the case on the touchdown over the middle to Josh.”
Luquet said Friday marked a bit of a milestone in the relatively short history of the Burger Bowl – over the six years he’s overseen the scrimmage as a prep head coach, this is the first time the offense had won.
“They’re getting on me, how ‘you paid off the officials,’” Luquet said with a smile.
He is usually the offensive playcaller, but he ceded all of that responsibility to his assistants for the Burger Bowl.
For at least the next year, the offense gets the bragging rights from this day – and some of the winner’s swag that goes with it.
“My mom got the trophy for me,” Luquet said, referring to the winner’s trophy with a hamburger adorning the top. “We take a picture with the winning team in front of the scoreboard with it and put it in the locker room … it’s a chance for the guys to talk a little smack and a lot of fun for everybody.”
Hahnville and its fans will have another chance to see this fall’s squad in live action as it hosts Slidell tonight at 6 p.m. in the team’s annual spring scrimmage.