HHS star caps stellar year with honors

Anthony “Pooka” Williams followed up on his breakout sophomore campaign with an even more dominant junior season. All-State team voters noticed.

The Hahnville junior earned a spot on this year’s Class 5A All-State squad, as voted on by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. The Tigers went 9-3 this season with their versatile star leading the way—Williams lined up primarily at running back and wide receiver, but also made an impact as a Wildcat quarterback and as one of the state’s top weapons as a kick returner.

“That’s an accomplishment, one that very football player wants to get,” Williams said. “God blessed me with the talent to get it, so, I’ve got to thank God first, and also my teammates because they made it possible.”

While Williams was the lone Hahnville or Destrehan player to earn first team All-State honors, Destrehan’s Justin Jefferson, Kristian Mosley and Jaece Stroud earned All-State honorable mention, as did Hahnville’s Drew Jones.

Williams carried the ball 180 times this season for 1,531 yards and 24 touchdowns and caught 35 passes for 772 yards and five touchdowns. He scored twice on returns to push his touchdown total to 31.

“He’s got tremendous hand eye coordination, electric hips, and everyone knows how fast he is,” Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio said. “There are guys who get big yardage, but very rarely do you get guys with that kind of ability to score anytime he has it.”

Williams’ signature game this season came in Hahnville’s Week 10 matchup with Thibodaux. He lit up the Tiger Stadium scoreboard in that game, thrilling fans as he rushed for a school record 355 yards and four touchdowns on 30 carries in a 44-27 victory.

“The line was blocking and opened up those holes,” Williams said. “After that, you gotta do what you’ve gotta do. When everyone’s doing their job like that, everybody’s gonna come out good, and it was a great night for us.”

With Williams as its centerpiece, the Hahnville offense was as potent as it’s ever been, at one point scoring 40 points or more in six consecutive games.

Saltaformaggio said Williams combines a very rare set of talents that makes him an almost impossible answer for a defense to solve.

“The Good Lord gave him a gift,” Saltaformaggio said. “Not only is he explosive, but he’s explosive in multiple directions. A lot have straight ahead speed, a lot have power, but they don’t both moving in multiple directions. He can catch the ball out the backfield and get downfield as a receiver … he can do it all at both positions and it opens up a ton of things you can do.

“Honestly, we need to do a better job of getting him the ball going forward. You look back at our three losses, all games he had minimal touches. We’ll have to do a better job and get him those touches.”

With one more year to thrill fans at Tiger Stadium, the star rusher has his eye squarely on the prize.

“Next year, we’ve gotta maintain our ground and keep fighting for that state championship,” he said.

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