Hahnville Offensive Player of the Year: Anthony “Pooka” Williams, senior running back. In short, Williams put together one of the greatest individual seasons in Louisiana prep football history.
He finished 2017 with 3,108 rushing yards on 314 carries for an average of nearly 10 yards per carry, standing as one of the highest totals in state history. He scored 40 total touchdowns and doubled as one of the state’s most dangerous returnmen.
But it was specifically his postseason play that captured the imagination of so many. 26 carries for 305 yards (vs. Denham Springs); 42 carries for 303 yards (at Ruston); 27 carries for 353 yards (vs. Covington); and 25 carries for 213 yards (at Acadiana) and 36 carries for 210 yards (vs. Zachary) despite playing through a high-ankle sprain suffered a week prior. He scored 15 times over those four games, plus a game-winning two point conversion in overtime of the state semifinals.
“I don’t think you’ll see that kind of a playoff run from anyone else, anytime soon,” said Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio said. “Football players are all built different shapes and sizes, but what separates the exceptional player from the great player, and I put him in the exceptional category, is ability to find a will when everything else around you seems lost. Late in ballgames, he was able to find that will to be special.”
Saltaformaggio said Williams has a lot of traits that make him a special player, but that his ability to make defenders miss early in a play and create yards when blocking breaks down is truly rare.
“You don’t have to block perfectly for Anthony to make yards,” he said. “A lot of very good backs can make a second or third level defender miss, but he’s the rare talent who can make people miss in the hole.”
Saltaformaggio said Williams put the Hahnville program back on the map and made football at the high school “fun again.”
“He’s popular. He makes it fun to go to the games and our fans came out in droves,” Saltaformaggio said. “He makes it so kids in middle school say, ‘I want to go to Hahnville, I want to be like Pooka.’ He did so much for our program.”