Hahnville ready to take field for jamboree

Koen Donnaud celebrates an interception for Hahnville in last week's scrimmage at St. James.

There are a few position battles to settle for Hahnville this Thursday night as it readies for prep football’s annual dress rehearsal for the regular season.

The Tigers will face off with visiting West Jefferson at approximately 7:30 p.m. – the time approximate as it will begin following an early game between Booker T. Washington and South Plaquemines that begins at 6 p.m. at Tiger Stadium to kick off the jamboree.

A revamped Hahnville defense looked strong in last week’s scrimmage at St. James and the Tigers will look to keep that momentum going this week in jamboree competition – which is contested via two 15 minute halves. The result does not count in the standings but the game stands as the final chance to iron out any wrinkles before live action.

While as always the Tigers will aim to play well and earn the exhibition victory, but ultimately it is also the last, best chance for several players to declare their readiness for starting jobs and extended playing time and a valuable tool for coaches in evaluation.

“Mainly we need to continue to work on the things we’ve gotta get better at,” said Hahnville head coach Daniel Luquet, entering his fourth season guiding the program. We have to continue to work on establishing the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football. Continue to be successful on first and second down, continue to play as a unit and continue to get more comfortable playing together.”

West Jefferson is entering its first season under new head coach DeCarlos Holmes, who was hired after former coach Willie Brooks resigned after last season. The team went 4-6 last season but made the playoffs in two of Brooks’ three seasons at the school.

Luquet noted Hahnville’s opponents throughout the 2023 season are blessed with size and speed, and that West Jefferson stands as a good starting point to prepare for that.

“They’re athletic on both sides of the football – Marrero and Avondale kids, a West Bank football team,” said Luquet. “You try and match your jamboree opponent with what you’ll see in the regular season, and we’ll play some big, fast teams.”

Luquet said the Tigers are in the process of rounding out the starting lineup, with position battles to be settled at tight end, wide receiver, offensive line and defensive line.

“Really it’s across the board, just getting more tape on some guys,” Luquet said. “In Class 5A football, it’s not really just about that first 11 (on each side), but 14 to 15 guys. We’re finding who those ninth through 14th guys are going to be who we’ll be counting on.”

The Tigers gave up very little to St. James in last week’s scrimmage, a good sign for a defense that shifted its scheme over the offseason – the Tigers attack, fly around and pressure the backfield, and the adjustment thus far has been seamless through a spring game and a scrimmage.

“Kudos to our staff on that side and to our kids,” Luquet said. “I told them after the scrimmage that I’m really pleased with the discipline in which we played. Guys are looking to the sideline and receptive to coaching. They’re picking up I Pads and figuring it out on the sideline.”

Hahnville forced some turnovers during the scrimmage, including interceptions by Koen Donnaud and Koa Romero. Donnaud’s interception likely would have been returned for six if scrimmage rules allowed for live play on turnovers.

Likewise, the St. James defense played well in limiting Hahnville’s offense. One thing that was clear, however, was the Tigers’ vertical passing game could be in for a big boost. Quarterback Ryan Gregson was not shy about taking shots downfield and showed confidence in his receivers – the day’s final play, in fact, was a completed shot inside the St. James 5 from Gregson to Chase Brooks before time expired in the scrimmage’s timed quarter.

Gregson missed some time during the summer due to an ankle injury but Luquet said the senior continues to grow within the offense.

“We actually got to see some things from him (when he was sitting) … we had him kind of coach on the field, let him signal and call some plays during the summer,” Luquet said. “We see how his mind works and matches up with what we’re trying to do. He’s laser focused and he’s a great leader. He’s a guy who I think will be super prepared for what the season’s going to bring.”

 

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