When the Rummel Raiders came to Tiger Stadium last year, they had just come off a state championship season.
However, Hahnville was leading 5-0 with only 35 seconds to go when a Raider receiver made a reception and pitched it out to the team’s tailback, who took the ball in for a 79-yard game-winning touchdown.
This year, Hahnville head coach Nick Saltaformaggio is looking for a much different ending. Based on last week’s dominate 35-14 win over Salmen High School and a 42-12 jamboree victory, he may just get it.
“I hope we are as good as we are looking. We have scored 70 points in six quarters and we can still get a whole lot better, so I am hoping what I am seeing is true,” Saltaformaggio said.
In last week’s contest against Salmen, the Tigers triple option attack was commanding as they racked up five rushing touchdowns.
“We’ve only been running this offense since May when we got to spring ball. I am really happy where we are now with a completely different turn in philosophy and skills,” Saltaformaggio said.
Saltaformaggio attributed much of his team’s success on the ground to the offensive line, particularly the play of right guard Adrien Young who recorded 16 knockdowns on the night. On the defensive side of the ball, Salmen was limited by a swarm of Tigers coming off the defensive line who held them to just eight rushing yards. Facing the Tigers superior run defense, Salmen turned to the passing game and saw some success with two touchdowns.
Saltaformaggio has stressed to his players that the secondary has to get better at coverage.
“We don’t want to be bad there,” he said.
That is especially true this week going up against Rummel, who is coming off a Division 1 state championship season in 2013. Rummel is currently ranked as the No. 15 team in the nation by USA Today and is the only Louisiana school in the top 25. Last week in a 39-0 blowout of East St. John, junior Rummel quarterback Chase Fourcade was perfect by connecting on all five of his passes for three touchdowns.
Saltaformaggio said Fourcade is just one of several weapons Rummel has on the offensive side of the ball. Running backs Maurice Bailey and Devin Hutton also combined for more than 200 yards on the ground against East St. John.
Saltaformaggio has called the Rummel game the toughest on the Tigers schedule this year and he anticipates a close game.
“They are big, they are physical, they execute well. There is a reason they won a state championship, it wasn’t a fluke,” he said. “I think they are going to come down here and do what we do…they are going to punch you in the face and see who is standing at the end of it.”
Despite the challenge Rummel will provide, Saltaformaggio was quick to say the Tigers are more focused on making themselves better as a team than about who they are facing from week to week.
“This is about who we are, not about who we are playing,” Saltaformaggio said. “We are trying to re-identify ourselves as a high school 5A power and what better way to do it than beating Rummel?”
Saltaformaggio said Hahnville would just be happy with a win, no matter how close the score.
“We are working to get better this week and hopefully we are one point better on Friday night,” he said.
Hahnville will host Rummel Friday at 7 p.m.