Near the end of the first half of Hahnville’s game at H.L. Bourgeois, wide receiver Corey Lorio hauled in a touchdown pass on a fourth and 17 that gave the Tigers a four-touchdown lead—the pass was an “absolute dime,” according to HHS head coach Nick Saltaformaggio.
Welcome, Tiger fans — finally — to the Andrew Robison experience.
The senior quarterback was ruled eligible by an arbitrator this week after a season long struggle with the LHSAA. Robison’s return to the football field — and also to Houma, where he spent three seasons with Vandebilt Catholic — proved a spark that supercharged Hahnville, which earned a 48-0 victory over the Braves that sealed a .500 record for the Tigers to conclude the regular season.
It also cemented the Tigers (5-5, 3-3) as the lower seed no team in 5A wants to host in round one.
“It’s almost bittersweet, because watching him play is awesome, but it also makes you think what could have been,” Saltaformaggio said. “Tonight, I think we saw the team everyone thought we would have back in August.”
The coach indicated, though, that bittersweet feeling will likely extend to one other team when the Class 5A bracket is announced Sunday evening. Hahnville projects to be seeded somewhere in the 19-24 range, putting them on the road.
“Some team worked hard all year long to get that home playoff game in the first round, and you’re gonna get Hahnville coming in, and that’s not good,” Saltaformaggio quipped.
Robison passed for 160 yards and a pair of touchdown passes in his season debut and showed little, if any, rust despite not having played in live game action in over a year.
“It was amazing … you’d have never known he hadn’t played in a year. That’s a testament to his preparation all season, and his mental preparation as well. He’s able to visualize things on the field instantly,” Saltaformaggio said.
But Robison wasn’t the only star on this night. The Hahnville defense held Bourgeois to just 11 yards of total offense. The Tigers had balance through the running game, led by Brandon Comardelle’s 68 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries—his score was the Tigers’ first of the night.
Robison’s first touchdown pass as a Tiger came to Jonathon Hill, a 10-yard connection in the first quarter that put HHS ahead 14-0.
Maxwell Farrell blocked a Bourgeois (2-8, 1-5) punt and recovered for a touchdown — the first of three Hahnville special teams scores on the night. Then Robison dialed up Lorio on a 28 yard pass to make it 27-0. Jerry Spencer returned the second-half kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown, while Jha’Quan Jackson added his own score on a punt return. Dominique Curley’s 8-yard touchdown run in the third quarter rounded out the Tigers’ scoring.
While Robison’s return will garner the most attention, Saltaformaggio was quick to note that if not for the gutty effort by the Tigers to rally back from a 1-4 start to win three of the last four weeks, this could have been the quarterback’s first and last start in a Hahnville uniform.
“The kids we had playing quarterback (Andrew Naquin and Jha’Quan Jackson) handled it as unbelievably as two high school kids could handle that situation. Because of that, and because of the type of kids we have in our football program, nobody ever gave up on this season. They stayed the course,” Saltaformaggio said.
That course has led Hahnville into the 5A playoffs. Now, the Tigers await their draw on Sunday as one of the field’s most dangerous teams.
“We can’t do anything about the last 10 weeks,” Saltaformaggio said. “We don’t have the record we want to have by any stretch of the imagination. But we played the hand we were dealt the best we could … the playoffs start and your record is now the same as everyone else. Now let’s go get it.”