Tigers have question marks on defense, new quarterback
In what has become a perennial jamboree match-up, the Hahnville Tigers will face off against the St. James Tigers at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Ed Reed River Parishes Jamboree.
The jamboree will be the first real-time action Hahnville has seen against an opponent since last year’s loss in the second round of the playoffs to Parkway.
Since that time the Tigers have lost most of their starting defensive line and linebackers, as well as key starters at quarterback and running back.
Despite the large turnover, Hahnville head coach Lou Valdin said the competition for this year’s starters has mostly been settled.
“We’ve got a couple of spots where we are still looking at some guys. Hopefully we’ll be able to clear that up,” he said.
Leading the offense is senior quarterback Dylan Keller, who will helm a new run and gun shotgun-style offense that was built around his athletic capabilities.
Despite having most of the starters wrapped up, Valdin said the jamboree will go a long way toward defining roles for key backups.
“We’re going to look at and grade our starters, but we’ll probably look a lot more at the backup guys. We pretty much know who can start for us, but we are going to look at the backup guys to see where we are at each position,” he said.
Valdin said a big part of the game will be putting his special teams unit out on the field for the first time this year against another team.
“The thing with me is I want to get as many special teams onto the field, make sure I have 11 guys out there and then not get anybody hurt and let our guys play it out,” he said.
A few changes may affect this year’s special teams unit over last year. Kicker Craig Ford will be taking on punting duties and junior wide receiver Brandon Singleton will join senior wide receiver Rickey Preston in the return game. Senior cornerback Jamal Smith will return punts.
Although Smith has a few interception returns under his belt, this will be his first time handling punt return duties.
Valdin said he decided to go with a defender as a punt returner to simplify game-time situations.
“We don’t want to have to run a punt team out there. We are going to keep our defense out there and eliminate as many substitutions as possible,” he said.
Valdin said although he would like for his team to come out on top, the game will be more about assessing the readiness and talent of his players before heading into the regular season.
“It’s the last one that doesn’t count and is not for real. I am not as worried about game planning and that kind of stuff. It is more like a preseason scrimmage except we are going to be kicking,” he said.
The jamboree will be held at Hahnville High School.
Go to www.heraldguide.com for complete coverage following the game.