Tigers look to limit talented RB, notch turnaround performance at Mandeville

Cameron Darensbourg of Hahnville

As Hahnville prepares to visit Mandeville this Friday night, one question will ring loudest as the Tigers fight to avoid a 0-2 start.

Where is Nate Sheppard?

Hahnville’s ability to contain Sheppard will loom large as the Tigers attempt to defeat the Skippers for a second consecutive season. Last year, Hahnville survived an all-out assault from Sheppard who scored a whopping six touchdowns – every

Mandeville touchdown, in fact – in one of the wildest prep games of the season, a 42-41 shootout that the Tigers sealed with a stop of a two-point conversion pass in overtime.

The running back is a special athlete – he combines the strength to squat 500 pounds with the speed to excel for Mandeville on the track as a hurdler. But what makes the junior truly unique is his ability to attack from everywhere.

“He can play multiple positions … they put him in the slot, they move him all over the place. We’ve worked hard this week at recognizing where he’s at,” said Hahnville head coach Daniel Luquet. “We have a plan for him. He’s probably going to be the best player on the field Friday night on either side of the ball.”

Luquet said Sheppard has great hands and great speed, and it will take multiple tacklers to ensure he’s down.

“He’s gonna play at a Power 5 school,” Luquet said. “We have to do everything we can to make sure he doesn’t change the game like he did last year.”
Mandeville went 4-6 last year, but expectations are higher in year two under head coach Craig Jones, a Skippers alum. Week one was promising for the team, which defeated Denham Springs 38-7 in Week One. Sheppard scored three times and garnered more than 200 yards of offense.

Quarterback Noah Kyle is a threat to take off and run as well. Defensively, Mandeville likes to load the box and defend one-on-one – a tactic that can create a healthy atmosphere for lots of possessions and shootouts like the one the teams played a year ago.

Luquet said Hahnville will need to be able to take advantage of those looks. But perhaps more importantly, the Tigers must eliminate the mistakes that derailed them last week in a 41-21 loss at Newman.
The Greenies forced four Hahnville turnovers, including three interceptions and a fumble, and returned two of those turnovers for scores. A game that was close at halftime was out of reach by the end of the third quarter, with Newman leading 41-14.

“Three picks, a ball snapped over the quarterback’s head, and we give up 14 quick,” Luquet said. “We talked about taking care of the football. I don’t expect Ryan (Gregson) to have another game like that. We’ll need to take what’s there and control things up front, and hopefully cut down on some of the possessions Mandeville has.”

Gregson connected with wide receiver Dyron Lorio for a 24-yard touchdown that gave HHS a 14-7 lead before Newman scored 34 unanswered points.

HHS running back Calvin Smith, meanwhile, had a big statistical night, rushing for 159 yards and adding 70 yards through the air, tallying 229 yards from scrimmage. He also punched in two rushing scores on the night.
Smith and fellow running back Chase Brooks figure to be central this week in limiting Mandeville’s opportunities and re-stabilizing the Tiger offense.

Defensively, Hahnville held Newman to just a 2-for-9 conversion rate on third down. But the Greenies did generate big plays, including touchdown passes of 38 and 56 yards.

Gregson spread the ball to several receivers offensively – Kobe Louis, Lorio and Jah’man Preston each hauled in at least three passes, with Louis leading in yardage with three catches for 65.


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