It was damp and dreary at Tiger Stadium in Boutte Saturday, but one would never have known it judging by the players on the field during Hahnville’s intrasquad scrimmage.
COVID-19 put this football season in jeopardy. But with a new appreciation for the game, the Tigers took the field with high goals in mind, two weeks before they will officially open things at home against L.W. Higgins.
“It felt real good,” said Hahnville safety Alijah Hamilton, who intercepted a pass early in scrimmage fare. “We came out here in the rain and got some great work in. We’ve got a phenomenal offense, especially that wide receiver corps, and working against those guys every day just makes us better (on defense).”
This was the first action the team has seen this year in a live game type of setting, and even though fans were not allowed in the stands due to COVID restrictions, the players seemed more than ready to show their skills against their teammates on the Tiger Stadium turf.
The scrimmage saw sets of 10 plays between the first and second teams on both offense and defense, with ones getting reps against opposing ones and twos in different series. The teams concluded the evening with redzone drills near the goalline.
“COVID messed up a lot of stuff,” said Hamilton. “But I think we’re showing we’ve been able to come back and come back strong. I really feel like this team has a bright future. We have a real good young class coming up that’s gonna help lead us to some good things.”
The Tigers defense had the upper hand in the early going, forcing several three-and-outs within the first 15 play set. Hahnville’s starting offense began stirring a bit on the second set, driving down to the 30 yard line before giving way to the second team.
The third set was indeed the charm, however, for the first team offense, who began to show some of their big play capability. Quarterback Andrew Naquin fired a first down pass to Troy Kendrick, helping to set up the night’s first touchdown, a 60-yard downfield strike from Naquin to Corey Lorio against the Hahnville second unit defense.
A few plays later, Naquin challenged the defense downfield successfully again. He rolled out left and fired a 50-yard bomb to Dakota Williams, who got free behind the defense for six.
“Last year, we ran the football a lot, but at the same time, we know we have guys that can really go at our skill positions. We have to be able to push the ball downfield,” said Daniel Luquet, who was coaching his first scrimmage as Hahnville’s head coach after serving as offensive coordinator last season. “That will make it easier to run the football and give us the chance to really put pressure on a defense all over the field.”
In the red zone drill, running back Jeremy White scored on a short run to start things off. Naquin found Collin Zeringue and Kendrick for touchdown passes as well.
Hamilton and Jyran Smith each made big plays on the defensive side of the ball, both defensive backs intercepting passes. It was a good night for the first team defense as a whole, as the Tiger ones gave up no points in their 10 play sets.
Lorio was a frequent target of Naquin’s, both players flashing signs that they’ve built on their 2019 successes. Running back Cole Villasenor also kept busy as a pass receiver underneath.
Luquet was pleased with what he saw from his team on the whole, and called it something the Tigers can build on.
The weather conditions, he added, offered some valuable experience in itself.
“We saw it in Zachary in the playoffs last year … you have to be able to play in weather just like this and be prepared for it,” Luquet said. “We have a lot of new starters on defense and it’s a work in progress, but I thought they did a really good job. I think we saw some good things in each phase and if we can play complimentary football … force turnovers, take care of the football, push it downfield and run it, we’re gonna have a chance to win a lot of games.”