Hahnville has battled adversity all season long, and the Tigers haven’t quit.
Nothing prior to Friday night’s game with Central Lafourche caused them to give up. And once again, when the chips were down, the Tigers refused to surrender — not to a 14-point deficit on the road, and for its ascending star running back, not to a painful hip injury.
Brandon Comardelle played through the pain to score two touchdowns and Hahnville’s defense scored on a fumble return to key a run of 24 unanswered points in an eventual 24-14 victory at Central Lafourche, keeping Hahnville well in the heart of the playoff mix.
“It could have easily been, ‘oh, here we go, it’s been a tough year, we’re gonna get killed,’ but hats off to our kids, and our coaches too,” Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio said. “And that’s just them … our kids are never gonna quit. They’ve worked too hard to quit and they’ve worked too hard to not believe in themselves.”
The Trojans landed the first blows, starting with their first possession of the night. Running back Deon Jenkins scored on a 12-yard run to make it 7-0 with 10:15 remaining in the first quarter.
Central (5-4, 1-4) followed up with another first quarter touchdown, this time through the air on Jacob Barker’s 6-yard scoring throw to tight end Logan Wilcox with 2:09 left in the first quarter.
After an interception by the Central defense, Hahnville found itself in a dire position. But the Tigers came up with a defensive stop — and it turned out to be just the first of many more on the night.
Hahnville (4-5, 2-3) got on the board on Comardelle’s 36-yard touchdown run with 5:59 left in the first half, though the extra point attempt failed to make for a 14-6 Central lead.
Ethan Chacon booted a field goal late in the first half to cut the Trojans’ lead to 14-9 at halftime.
Hahnville stopped Central on the latter’s first series after halftime, an Adonis Friloux sack one of the key plays on the way to forcing a punt. Jha’Quan Jackson had a strong return on the punt to give the Tigers strong field position.
The Tigers took their first lead of the night by converting a fourth-and-goal with 3:02 left in the third on a 3-yard Comardelle touchdown run and then adding a two-point conversion via a Jackson run to make it 17-14.
Saltaformaggio said the decision to go for the touchdown rather than settle for the field goal came down to his belief his players had battled back and deserved the chance to take the lead there.
“We’d fought too hard,” Saltaformaggio said. “We were also playing such good defense, I felt if we hadn’t made it, we could have forced a punt and gotten it back on a short field. But I believed our kids would get it done. We had a nice play call by Coach (Mike) Silva, got it in and turned right around to get the conversion.
Just over a minute later, the Tigers got the big defensive play they needed to take control of the game, forcing a fumble and Logan Brimmer returning it 20 yards to pay dirt, making it 24-14. Hahnville’s defense closed it out from there, and held Central Lafourche scoreless for the last 38 minutes of game time.
“Our kids were feeling good, and the way the defense was playing, they knew it would take a tremendous effort (by Central) to overcome a 10-point lead,” Saltaformaggio said.
Saltaformaggio said Comardelle pushed through an injury that left him clearly less than 100 percent.
“He gutted it out,” Saltaformaggio said. “He was far from 100 percent, he didn’t have the burst he usually has. We kind of picked and chose where we needed him.”
Hahnville’s a win away from reaching .500 and cementing its spot in the playoffs, and while playoff berths may have become commonplace over the years at HHS, it’s no short accomplishment given the nightmarish way much of the season has unfolded.
“We know if we’re fortunate enough to win next week (against H.L. Bourgeois), we’ll have flipped the schedule and gone 4-1 here in the second half after starting 1-4,” Saltaformaggio said. “We know we won’t have a great playoff seed, but if we can go 5-5 after all we’ve been through, and especially battling back like we did tonight … hats off to these guys, all of them.”