It is only four weeks into head coach Nick Saltaformaggio’s tenure as Hahnville’s new head coach and the team is already on the playoff bubble.
“We have five weeks where we have to beat four or five teams to make the sate playoffs. I don’t know if we are capable of doing that. We’ll find out,” Saltaformaggio said.
After nearly completing an improbable comeback against Thibodaux (4-0) only to fall short by three points, Saltaformaggio said Hahnville must play a perfect game in order to beat No. 2 Destrehan (4-0) this week.
Hahnville was losing 19-7 against Thibodaux nearing the end of the fourth quarter when they began what would have been a comeback for the ages. The Tigers first forced a safety to narrow the score to 19-9. A few plays later sophomore quarterback Austin Perrin, who was registering his first start in place of injured quarterback Mike Neal, hooked up with senior wide receiver Brandon Singleton for a 28-yard touchdown to bring the score to 19-16.
With less than a minute left in the game Hahnville recovered an onside kick, but they were unable to convert a field goal and suffered the loss.
Saltaformaggio said the Thibodaux loss was due more to his team’s inability to overcome weaknesses rather than Hahnville not being as good of a team.
“The reality of it is that we have two losses to two teams that are combined 8-0, but we shouldn’t have lost to Thibodaux. Hats off to those guys, but it is more about our failures,” he said, “We are fumbling the ball all over the place and we are being penalized at the wrong time – it is never the right time to be penalized, but we are getting penalties after big plays.”
Saltaformaggio said he feels like the team as a whole took a step back.
“In the development of the program and keeping the process on course we took a step back. It is not the loss that is bothering me, it is that we took a step back in the process,” he said.
However, Saltaformaggio said he felt Perrin handled himself well in his first start.
“I thought Austin did a good job for a kid that saw his first varsity action against a 5A football team,” he said. “He had some breakdowns, but not any extreme breakdowns like you would expect from a sophomore playing his first game.”
Coming into this week’s game against Destrehan, Saltaformaggio said his team is going to have to play mistake free football to stand any chance of winning.
“If you look at the games we’ve lost, we lost them the same way. We fumble the ball, get away from the plan, have terrible penalties and miss a kick. Still, with all of those breakdowns we have had a chance to win,” he said.
Saltaformaggio said Destrehan is likely the most formidable opponent the Tigers will face this year.
On the offensive side of the ball alone Destrehan has more than their fair share of playmakers in wide receivers Kirk Merritt, Alfred Smith, John Williams and running back Will Matthews.
“You are dealing with four guys who are all going to play college football,” Saltaformaggio said.
In addition, Destrehan quarterback Marquise Darensbourg has also caught Saltaformaggio’s eye.
“Darensbourg has gotten better every single week. They know what they need to do and go out and do it. They are exactly the opposite of us,” he said.
On defense, Saltaformaggio said Destrehan is just as impressive.
“Defensively they are big and have a great linebacker unit,” he said.
While in the past Saltaformaggio said he felt his team had more talent than their opponents, he does not feel that way when it comes to Destrehan.
“There is nothing we can do about how good Destrehan is. We are going to circle our wagons and get better,” he said. Despite the high level of play Destrehan exhibits,
Saltaformaggio said he is looking forward to his first game as coach in the parish rivalry.
“This is just another game for me in the infancy of my program. It is Destrehan and a big rivalry, but it cannot be the end all in what we hope to accomplish, which is reestablishing Hahnville as a powerhouse,” he said. “We took a step back [last week] and hopefully we can do everything we need to do to take a step forward.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Destrehan.