Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio says that during the school day, his players don’t usually say much during the week about their opponent.
This week is different.
“They’re running around doing other things. They really don’t come up to you in the hall and say, ‘What about Friday night this week, Coach?’ This week? It’s ‘Coach, I can’t wait until Friday night,’” Saltaformaggio said.
This one might be a bit personal.
Friday marks almost a year to the day of Hahnville’s last trip to Terrebonne, which resulted in a 41-0 loss to eventual district runner-up THS. Saltaformaggio said the Hahnville program was embarrassed like never before in the loss.
“We went down there and, personally for me, it was the low mark as a coach of a program,” Saltaformaggio said. “Our kids know Terrebonne embarrassed us last year. They were there.”
Particularly, the final score of the game is seared in the veteran coach’s memory.
“They deserved to beat us. They were the better football team. It was really just the way it went, going for two after scoring the last touchdown … it’s one of those things that sticks in my craw,” he said.
The faces will be familiar, though circumstances have changed. Hahnville was struggling last season when it made the trip to Terrebonne, but a more experienced Tigers’ squad enters this matchup unbeaten at 3-0.
Terrebonne is no less formidable, though. THS is 2-1 and brings back most of its talented skill position players from its explosive offense a season ago, quarterback Ja’khi Douglas and wide receivers Jaylin Lucas and Randall Hartman among the most dangerous threats of the 2018 state quarterfinalist.
Hahnville’s defense was able to contain Terrebonne for much of the night last year, but the Tigers’ offense struggled mightily and eventually the floodgates opened in the fourth. This year’s Hahnville offense has been much improved, with quarterback Drew Naquin making tremendous strides as a junior. Defensively, the Tigers have been dominating, its first team allowing just two touchdowns scored against all year. Last week, Hahnville held Higgins to minus-3 yards of offense in the first half.
“They’re making a name for themselves,” Saltaformaggio said of his defense.
Offensively, the trend has also been positive.
“We have to continue to play turnover-free football. We’ve forced a lot of turnovers ourselves and it allows us to play on shorter fields,” Saltaformaggio said. “And beyond that, the key is the same each week—when Andrew Naquin plays well for us, as he has been, we’re very tough to beat.”
Even in the midst of a 3-0 start—a program best since Saltaformaggio took the Hahnville helm—he says his team is still building an identity. A victory over a quality Terrebonne squad in the opening week of District 7-5A play would certainly take a large step toward doing that.