The Hahnville Tigers are picking up steam.
Hahnville put together a complete, dominant effort Friday night as it defeated visiting H.L. Bourgeois, 49-7, in a game the Tigers led from the very first play of the game.
Anthony Williams returned the opening kickoff for 90 yards and a touchdown and the Tigers (6-3, 4-1) were off to the races for their fourth consecutive victory.
“We’re playing good football,” Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio said. “We’ve rebounded from our midseason swoon, and a whole lot of that has to do with the resiliency of our kids. This was a complete team effort that I couldn’t be prouder of.”
Saltaformaggio said he had an inkling Williams was about to quickly bring the Tiger fans to their feet.
“If you kick the ball to 7, there’s a good chance something big is about to happen,” Saltaformaggio said. “When they kicked it to him, I kind of saw it coming. He’s such a special talent. I just like to say, thank God he’s at Hahnville and thank God he’s only a sophomore.”
After stopping the Braves (5-4, 1-4) on their first possession, Hahnville took the ball right downfield and scored again, this time on a short Drew Dunn touchdown run to make it 14-0 with just over four minutes gone in the game.
After forcing a H.L. Bourgeois punt, HHS cashed in again immediately. Mike Neal found Williams for a long touchdown reception to make it 21-0 with 2:54 left in the first quarter.
“If we keep getting this kind of play from Mike Neal, I think we’ll be more than fine,” Saltaformaggio said. “He’s really playing well and it’s taking the pressure off of our runners.”
Anthony Gray returned the Braves’ next punt effort into Bourgeois territory, setting up Neal’s own touchdown run that made it 28-0.
Bourgeois found a chance to climb back into the game after a muffed punt by the Tigers’ return team gave the Braves first down in HHS territory. But the Tigers forced Bourgeois to fourth and 5, and HHS stopped Braves’ quarterback Jude LeCompte short of the sticks to force a turnover on downs.
The Tigers almost punted for the first time with just over five minutes left in the first half, but drew Bourgeois offsides. They converted a fourth and 1 before Neal connected with Devonte Cravin for a 24-yard touchdown pass to make it 35-0 just before halftime.
Hahnville began sitting its first team midway through the third quarter.
The Tigers have one game remaining, a date at Thibodaux next week that could go a long way in deciding the ultimate playoff seeding of each team. Both teams enter next week with a 6-3 record, with second place in District 7-5A on the line.
“We still have a whole lot to play for,” Saltaformaggio said.