As often is the case with younger football teams, when Hahnville takes the field at Tiger Stadium Friday night to battle Northshore the focus will largely be on putting several different elements together for the first time.
In Week 1 of the season, Hahnville was able to move the football – but turnovers and penalties plagued the Tigers in a 41-21 loss to Newman. Likewise, in Week 2, Mandeville won by a significant margin, 31-5, but this time Hahnville cleaned up the mistakes – just three penalties and no turnovers. Instead, a 2-for-16 third down conversion rate plagued the team while Mandeville won the battle of field position in the kicking game.
But there are reasons for optimism – specifically this week. The Tigers (0-2) will play their first game of the season at home, set to take the field at Tiger Stadium after consecutive weeks on the road.
Sometimes, that home crowd is just the spark a young group of players need to get going.
“We’re excited to be home,” Hahnville head coach Daniel Luquet said. “We’ve learned a lot on the road over the past two weeks, but at the same time a lot of things need to be cleaned up. We’re excited for the atmosphere and I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of our guys have their first chance ever to play under the lights of Tiger Stadium on Friday night.
Like Hahnville, Northshore (0-2) saw a large senior class of departing players from its 2022 starting lineup and will be seeking its first win of the season. The Panthers lost games to Dutchtown, 35-16, and Salmen, 10-3, in Weeks 1 and 2. The Salmen game represented a rematch of the 2022 playoffs that saw Northshore defeat SHS 21-14 to advance.
Last season, Northshore went 8-4, earning the No. 13 seed. It ultimately fell in round two to fourth-seeded Southside in the Division I non-select state playoffs.
When Hahnville and Northshore met last season, it was a defensive battle, a 17-10 Hahnville win in Week 3 of 2022.
“They’re trying to find their footing, like us,” said Luquet. “They’re going to bring some good competition. We’ve got to worry about ourselves, though, and the things we need to get better at. We need to put things together in all phases, play assignment football, start fast, finish fast and play physical. Some things aren’t going to go in our favor and when that happens, we have to rally together.”
Quarterback Donovan Weilbaecher, running back Brice Cherry and Kohen Rowbatham and wide receiver T.J. Coleman are among the Panthers’ key playmakers on offense.
“(Weilbaecher) is back for them from last year. He’s not afraid to push the ball downfield and he can run a bit,” Luquet said.
Linebacker Jackson Fugate and defensive lineman Shaun Collins are among those who key the Northshore defense.
In last week’s loss to Mandeville, Fabian Celestine led the Tigers offensively with 81 yards on 11 carries. Ryan Simmons added 68 yards on two carries. Dyron Lorio caught three passes for 29 yards to lead the team in receiving.