There are some pairings on the prep football schedule that immediately leap off the page to the casual observer.
Hahnville at Jesuit represents such an instance.
The two programs are steeped in strong gridiron tradition, and they are set to collide Friday night in New Orleans at Tad Gormley Stadium at 7 p.m., in a game rescheduled from an initial Thursday night start time.
“It’s two historic programs battling in a place that’s pretty historic in itself, Tad Gormley Stadium,” said Hahnville head coach Daniel Luquet. “And like I told our guys, we have to be able to play teams on the road in the playoffs, where there are a lot of people there, in that atmosphere … it’s good to experience that.
“Last year, we had that against Zachary, and our guys who played in that game handled it pretty well. But it’s critical that you can do that … if you want to win a championship, you have to win on the road. This is a good test for us against a team that’s going to be in the playoffs, a very good football team.”
The Tigers (5-1, 4-1 in District 7-5A) have won three games in a row after besting H.L. Bourgeois on the road last week. Jesuit represents Hahnville’s second and final non-district game of the season, and also the beginning of what the Tigers and the HHS faithful hope will be a long run of stern tests. After Jesuit comes rival Destrehan with district championship honors at play, and then the Class 5A postseason. For Hahnville, wins in at least one of the next two would go a long way into putting the Tigers in line to host an opening round game.
Not that Jesuit will be in the mood to make that remotely easy. The Blue Jays (2-3) are fresh off of another matchup of premier programs, with John Curtis outlasting Jesuit 23-16.
This, as is Jesuit tradition, is a power football team. It attacks out of heavy, multiple tight end formations and controls the ball and the clock via the running game. Jordan Hughes is the lead rusher for Jesuit, which runs a two-quarterback system behind Jack Larriviere and Luke LaForge. The player to watch when the Jays attack downfield is wide receiver Luke Besh.
“It’s a lot of power, a lot of outside zone,” Luquet said. “They’re looking to go eight-plus plays and keep the ball out of your hands. Offensively, we might only get about eight possessions, and at that point you have to be really efficient with your chances.”
Defensively, Jesuit is a sound tackling team that looks to force opposing offenses to be just as patient as the Jays are. Luke Carlton leads the defensive line. Max Jubenville is a playmaking linebacker, and Dominic LoGiudice a very versatile one – the latter serves as an edge rusher and also a traditional 4-3 style outside linebacker in coverage, meaning Jesuit can offer lots of confusing looks to an offense. It employs a bend but don’t break approach that makes the offense rely on small bites, limiting the big play.
“So, we can’t afford to get greedy,” Luquet said. “They keep you in front, want you to nickel and dime them and they want to see how patient you are on offense. Sometimes, you can get impatient when teams try to make you go the distance. We’ve done a really good job pushing the ball vertically the first six games, but we’ll have to take what they give us. Tempo wise, that can be the same. We can do what we can to keep them on their heels, keep them thinking and see where we can take advantage.”