An 0-2 start at Hahnville is a rare beast – one of many oddities during a season that’s been anything but normal.
Never before had Hahnville opened a season against Destrehan, let alone back-to-back dates with the the latter and East St. John to start a campaign. The three teams entered the season to be, in the view of many, the most likely to sit atop District 7-5A as champion. With losses to both, that outcome would appear to be out of Hahnville’s reach now, barring some upsets down the line.
But the Tigers very much still have the postseason in their sights, but as Tigers coach Daniel Luquet warned, that work cannot wait. It must begin now, with a win Friday night at Thibodaux.
“I definitely saw some growth from week one to week two, and we’ve had a good two days of practice so far,” Luquet said Tuesday. “But yeah, we’ve got to go win. Especially with three games coming up after this week at home, if we can get this W, you start feeling better about what you’re doing. But we have to continue to play defense the way we’re playing. And we can’t turn the ball over.”
Thibodaux has begun the season 1-1, with a season-opening win over East St. John, 16-14, followed by a 13-7 loss to Assumption in non-district action.
Thibodaux went 4-5 last season, advancing to the playoffs before bowing out in Round 1 to John Ehret, 21-14.
Last season’s battle between the teams went the Tigers’ way, 64-35 in what was Hahnville’s highest scoring output of the season. That’s been the trend in recent years – Thibodaux’s last win in the series came in 2014, by a 19-16 score.
Since that THS win, the games in the series have skewed toward higher scoring totals. But thus far this season, both offenses have struggled to get into a groove.
“They do a really good job of limiting your possessions,” Luquet said. “They get in some big fronts and really try to suck the air out of the ball. They do a good job over there calling an offense that fits their personnel. Big tight ends, they’ve got some running backs who like to block and if you have a quarterback who makes smart decisions, that works out well. And on defense, they make you drive the length and make a mistake.”
Thibodaux’s top playmakers on offense include running back Owen Murillo and wide receiver Caden Brown.
The defense has played well despite the departure of cornerstone defensive lineman Jameian Buxton, who transferred to Warren Easton after his family’s home was damaged by Hurricane Ida.
For Hahnville, the key is eliminating mistakes, Luquet said, and it would be hard to argue against that point. The Tigers allowed East St. John no passing yards last Friday and drove into prime scoring position multiple times, but four turnovers left Hahnville with almost nothing to show for it.
It’s a unique scenario when two River Parish and district arch-rivals square off, both fighting to avoid an 0-2 start, but that’s exactly what faced HHS and ESJ in Reserve. The battle that ensued was physical, hard-hitting and contested in the trenches – and it came down to the final plays, with the Wildcats’ defense earning a stop with less than 10 seconds left to turn Hahnville away and capture an 8-3 victory.
“We lost that game on offense, early in the game,” said Luquet. “We’re driving, three times, and we get a bad snap, a fumbled exchange … that can’t happen. Our defense played lights out … it simply cannot happen. This is a tough one to swallow because our defense came to play and offensively, we didn’t get the job done.”