Hahnville Tigers star, coach earn top honors

Pooka Williams

Williams, Saltaformaggio headline 5A All-State squad, Destrehan’s Clark and Hahnville’s Dixon earn spots

Hahnville’s run through the Class 5A playoffs and state runner-up finish brought a traditional football power back into the spotlight, and with that spotlight, the accolades keep on coming.

The Tigers’ Anthony “Pooka” Williams was named the Outstanding Player of the LSWA’s Class 5A All-State team, while Hahnville head coach Nick Saltaformaggio was named 5A’s Coach of the Year.

Another Tiger, Larry Dixon, also earned first-team honors on the All-State squad, as did Destrehan’s Macon Clark.

Nick Saltaformaggio

Williams put together one of the truly elite seasons ever in 2017. He posted 3,108 rushing yards on 314 carries for an average of nearly 10 yards per carry and he scored 40 total touchdowns. With Pooka as its centerpiece, the Hahnville rushing attack became the team’s unstoppable calling card this season, with even the state’s best defenses unable to completely slow it down, even with heavily stacked fronts.

His postseason play vaulted him from a respected talent to perhaps the state’s player with the most buzz around his name at season’s end. He made 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.

“He set the bar for our program,” Saltaformaggio said. “Hahnville should be in state championship games, Hahnville hould be competing for state championships all the time. It’s a believable goal because we’ve been there. He did that, carried us to it. He really put us ahead of schedule.”

Williams was also named USA Today’s choice as Louisiana Offensive Player of the Year and part of its All-Louisiana team, which is chosen from all classifications. He officially signed in Kansas in December.

Larry Dixon

Saltaformaggio led Hahnville to a 12-3 record in his fourth season with the program, and with that a berth in the Class 5A state championship game. Hahnville defeated rival Destrehan this season and went unbeaten in district play.

“(Coach of the Year) is really a staff honor, to me,” Saltaformaggio said. “I appreciate it and it validates what we’ve done. I’ve been surrounded by a lot of really wonderful people here … I’m just the byproduct of a great school and great school system that’s allowed me to do wonderful things.”

His teammate, Dixon, was a star on the offensive line that helped Williams stack up those numbers. The 6-foot-6, 318 pound senior offensive tackle transferred to Hahnville as a junior and immediately became one of the team’s most dominant players.

Dixon led a line that rushed for more than 5,000 yards and eight yards a carry. He and the Hahnville line were a driving force behind one of the state’s most prolific offenses, one that averaged 37 points per game and scored 74 touchdowns this season.

“Larry came in here and really found a home at Hahnville and played well for us,” said Saltaformaggio. “He did a really nice job and he deserves that honor, for sure.”

Macon Clark

Added Hahnville offensive line coach David Baudry, “He’s a tremendous physical downblocker. He’s a big presence on our offensive line, a very bright kid with a high football IQ.”

Destrehan, meanwhile, saw its defense evolve into a dominant unit this season. Clark, a senior safety, was a huge part of that. He made 70.5 tackles (58 solo) and four sacks while forcing two fumbles, blocking a kick and intercepting a pass this season, while also making three returns for touchdowns.

The Tulane signee has played the roles of safety, linebacker, edge rusher and cornerback at different times during his career with the Wildcats, who moved him around to create problems for opposing offenses.

“He’s probably one of the most impressive guys I’ve coached, defensively, in a long time,” Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux said. “We have to kind of rein him in during practice because he plays so hard. He loves the game, plays extremely physical, can run … he’s just an all-around strong football player.”

Hahnville’s Lyncoy Reynaud was named honorable mention.

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