Hahnville’s final home game of the regular season will see a matchup of two of Louisiana’s traditional football powers, as Jesuit visits Tiger Stadium on Friday night.
The Blue Jays reputation will never be lost on Hahnville head coach Nick Saltaformaggio, who said as much as anything else his team must accomplish to come away with a win, it will have to match the tenacity and toughness Jesuit (6-2) displays year in and year out.
“The challenge is defeating who they are,” said Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio. “And who they are is one of the most storied program’s in high school history. They’re gonna do what they’re gonna do as best they can possibly do it. Every game, every year, and especially a Mark Songy coached team.”
Superbly coached and excellent in their execution of their offensive and defensive schemes, Jesuit poses problems for anyone, Saltaformaggio said. For his Tigers to make it nine in a row on Friday, it’ll take a response in kind.
“So for us, it’s gonna be about, who are we?” Saltaformaggio said. “When you talk storied programs in Louisiana prep football, Hahnville’s one of them, too. We’re Hahnville, and we need to be equal to the task. The big thing for this game, and our game next week, it’ll tell us what kind of playoff team we’re gonna be. This is a playoff team. Destrehan is a playoff team. We won’t face anyone in the first few rounds of the state playoffs who are better than either of those guys.”
These teams aren’t unfamiliar with one another. Hahnville (8-0) traditionally faced off with Jesuit in jamboree action for the past few seasons, but parted ways for preseason fare with the addition of this regular season contest.
Senior quarterback Grant Jordan leads the offense and keys its rushing attack.
“They’re a quarterback run team, and he’s extremely good,” Saltaformaggio said. “He’s a big guy. They run QB counter and power very well. He’s hard to break down. Watching him against Curtis and Holy Cross, he’s a hard guy to tackle. You have to get a lot of hats to him.”
Wide receivers Grant Moreau, Luke Best, William Hudlow and Presten Berggren all boast great size, and are as instrumental in blocking and springing runners downfield as they are in the pass-catching game.
But for the Blue Jays, it all starts up front on the offensive line, which is big and talented. Brian Balestra is who Saltaformaggio believes will be the best offensive lineman the Tigers have seen to date.
Defensively, the appropriately named Sonny Hazard wreaks havoc up front, leading the Jays on that side of the ball.
“He’s a big, physical kid. They have big guys on that front, on the first and second level. And they’re great tacklers. Darryle (Evans, Hahnville running back) is gonna have to move forward and not try to outwiggle those guys. Take the yardage, because when they get their hands on you, that’s it. They’re tackling you.”
As such, Jesuit tends to not give up many big plays. Patience will be key.
“You have to accept three, four, five yard gains and understand it’s OK,” said Saltaformaggio. “It may take three downs to move the chains. It may take 10 to 12 plays to cross the goalline, and that’s OK. We can’t let them make big plays defensively. We have to make them earn everything they get.”