After the latest setback in a season full of them, Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio says his team has not lost its spirit.
The Tigers saw another key offensive starter sidelined last week when its leading rusher this season, Brandon Comardelle, suffered a deep bone bruise to his hip that could potentially sideline him for this Friday night’s game at Central Lafourche and beyond. Hahnville already lost Darryle Evans, who entered the season as starter at running back, and the eligibility case of quarterback Andrew Robison is well-documented.
Comardelle had led Hahnville to consecutive wins, rushing for more than 200 yards in each of them, prior to the injury and it gave Hahnville its first prolonged stretch with a true offensive identity. Hahnville (3-5, 1-3) must now search for answers again, but Saltaformaggio said if the Tigers don’t find them this time, it won’t be for a lack of effort from his players.
“You go through a year like this, and as tough as it is, sometimes it can highlight the best in what you’re all about,” Saltaformaggio said. “These kids still play hard and they’re still all out at practice. We just had a great practice … it’s still upbeat. It’s difficult to endure, but it tests your mettle.”
Central Lafourche will be another test of that mettle, as Hahnville travels to Raceland.
HOW CENTRAL LAFOURCHE ATTACKS: Through ball control and complimentary team football – and with a bit of moxie, at that. Central Lafourche (5-3, 1-3) found itself embarrassed two weeks ago in a 51-21 loss at Destrehan, but turned around and gave District 7-5A’s other unbeaten team, Terrebonne, all it could handle last week in a 25-17 road loss. Prior to those two losses, Coach Keith Menard’s team began the season 5-1, earning four of those
“I think (Menard) probably does the best coaching job of anyone in our district,” Saltaformaggio said. “He’s got tough kids and they play really hard. They play in that system impeccably well. It didn’t shock me they played Terrebonne the way they played them.”
Deon Jenkins Jr. is the team’s most utilized offensive weapon, while another standout in 6-foot-3 tight end Jacob Wilcox can give any defense fits.
“He’s going to be a problem for us,” Saltaformaggio said of Wilcox, who has formed a strong connection with Central quarterback Jacob Barker.
Trevor Allemand anchors the Trojans’ defensive line in its 3-3-stack defense.
“They’re a mirror image of who they were last season … they do what they do, and they do it well,” Saltaformaggio said.
The keys for Hahnville, Saltaformaggio said, come down to finding a way to protect the football while still generating enough offense to get ahead on the scoreboard.
“We have to find a way to score points,” Saltaformaggio said. “I don’t know how we’ll do it, but we have to find a way. The turnovers we’ve had have been back-breaking, whether a pick six or a fumble deep in our own territory. We’re doing it over and over and we need to stop it.”
PERSONNEL SHIFTS: Saltaformaggio backed off his initial impression from last week that Comardelle would miss a couple of weeks, but still didn’t seem overly optimistic that he’d have his rusher back in the lineup and in form this week.
“It’s a very painful injury,” Saltaformaggio said. “We’ll see where we are as the week progresses. Obviously he won’t practice this week, so I’m not sure what his availability would be for Friday, if he would be at all.”
He added that if it’s a matter of putting Comardelle in line for reinjury, it wouldn’t be worth the risk.
“He’s a junior, and with anything like that, you don’t want to put them behind the eight ball going forward,” he said.
Meanwhile, at quarterback, senior Jha’Quan Jackson took over for sophomore Andrew Naquin last week, and Saltaformaggio said both players will see action behind center this week.
“It was a close football game last week and we needed a spark,” Saltaformaggio said. “We were turning the ball over and we weren’t productive … Jha’Quan’s a senior, has a little more control of our huddle and we wanted to get him in and calm things down.”
LAST YEAR’S MATCHUP: Hahnville dominated in the 2017 game between the teams, earning a 62-27 victory that represented the Tigers’ season scoring high. Pooka Williams rushed for 195 yards and three touchdowns on just seven carries, while Jha’Quan Jackson ran for 101 yards and three touchdowns of his own on eight attempts.
EAST ST. JOHN 21, HAHNVILLE 7 — A late touchdown pass closed the door on Hahnville, as visiting East St. John emerged from Tiger Stadium with a 21-7 victory.
Hahnville (3-5, 1-3) attempted to rally back from a 14-0 deficit in the fourth quarter when it cashed in on a turnover via Jha’Quan Jackson’s 17-yard run on a quarterback keeper that made it 14-7 with 9:59 left to play in the game.
But that momentum was fleeting. East St. John answered right back when quarterback Sean Shelby dialed up tight end Hoxie Brown for a 27-yard touchdown reception to push ESJ (3-5, 2-3) ahead by two scores, 21-7, with 5:37 left to play.
East St. John sealed the win when Jarius Monroe intercepted a Jackson pass to short circuit Hahnville’s next drive. The Tigers stopped ESJ from scoring once the Wildcats drove inside the Hahnville 5, but there wasn’t enough time left to mount a comeback.