Titus White is the last man standing.
Hahnville boasted a very strong group of receivers in 2022 – so strong, in fact, that three of the team’s top four options signed to play at the college level this fall: Dakota Williams, Josh Smith and Romell Hardy. That leaves White as the last remaining starter from that unit as he prepares to enter his senior year.
He certainly looked ready and able to take on a lead role this coming season, showing a strong connection with returning quarterback Ryan Gregson throughout Hahnville’s spring game with Warren Easton last week. White’s leaping catch over a defender in the back of the endzone on a fade route from Gregson earned HHS a 15-yard touchdown, a highlight among several of them for White – who made a handful of big gains downfield on the day.
“I know my team’s counting on me – I can’t have games off,” White said. “Last year I had Dakota Williams, Josh Smith and Romell Hardy with me, this year (White is the most experienced receiver). I need to stay on my A game.”
Easton got the better of HHS in the timed quarter portion of the scrimmage, outscoring the Tigers 7-0 in the period. Hahnville drove down into the Easton redzone – Di ’Tre Joseph drew a penalty downfield for HHS to set the team up close to the endzone – but was stopped on fourth down on the day’s final possession.
Hahnville won’t have the experience it had a year ago, but Hahnville head coach Daniel Luquet believes the Tigers have plenty to build on for the upcoming season – traits like strength and toughness in particular.
“We lost a lot of talented guys on both sides of the football and we’re young … I thought our weight room really showed up tonight for the first time in a long time. I thought we were in shape, looked strong and we competed. At the end of the day, we accomplished what we were looking to do – show we could compete with one of the best programs in the state.”
Easton is just one season removed from playing for the Class 4A championship in 2021, and brought a talented squad to Boutte for the spring scrimmage.
Easton passer Greg Donaldson had a solid day – including a deep bomb to Kyon Holliday in the timed quarter that set up quarter’s lone score, a run by Mathias Lee for a 5-yard score. Lee scored another touchdown earlier in the pre-set plays portion of the scrimmage, where each team gets a predetermined number of plays on a drive before yielding to the opposition.
6’4 wideout Stephen Stewart made one of the most impressive plays of the day on a deep sideline catch from Donaldson midway through the scrimmage, setting up a touchdown.
Hahnville is revamping its defense under coordinator Carey Melvin and will be looking for several players to step up as playmakers with several starters from last year’s group departed. Linebacker Beau Parker had a strong 2022 and shined early in the spring game, his sack of Donaldson helping to force an eventual stop in the redzone.
Luquet said the Tigers will be dialing up the heat on opposing offenses.
“We’re going to put speed on the field and sending pressure from different areas. We’re not the biggest defense in the world but we should be one of the fastest ones. We have a lot of guys who can fly around and tackle,” Luquet said.
He added he was impressed with the way that unit held strong against a very good Easton offensive line and receiving corps.
“Guys made some mistakes but they didn’t hang their head, they moved right on to the next play. I think we’ve got a really good base to work from,” Luquet said.
For Gregson, 2023 is a much different scenario than was 2022, when the then-junior was thrust into the starting quarterback role following Donovan Friloux’s knee injury. Gregson grew into the role and his numbers were considerably up over the second half of the season, and with Friloux’s graduation, Gregson entered this spring as the Tigers’ starting passer.
Experience goes a long way, he said.
“It’s a huge difference,” Gregson said. “Now everyone’s counting on me to be that leader … everything feels way more natural and having that experience from last season makes it 10 times easier. The game slows down and everything comes with a clearer picture.”
His chemistry with White should be something that pays dividends throughout the upcoming season.
“We have that type of connection we can really build on,” Gregson said.
Luquet said Gregson’s confidence has grown from not just his seasoning in the role last season, but also a strong year on the baseball diamond.
“We’re asking him to do a little more this year,” Luquet said. “He’s been getting bigger and stronger and he’s a smart kid. I’m excited to see how he progresses as we move into the summer.”