After two nailbiters in a row in which Hahnville took their opponents to triple overtime, the Tigers are hoping for a change of pace when they go up against Thibodaux this week.
After losing in triple overtime to Rummel in the second week of the season, Hahnville (2-1) came back last week and beat Landry-Walker (2-1) in triple overtime at Behrman Stadium in Algiers.
The win was an emotional one for the Tigers, who lost junior quarterback Mike Neal in the process for six to eight weeks with a broken collarbone.
With the game tied, sophomore quarterback Austin Perrin came in and scored three touchdowns to bring home the 45-39 win.
“I don’t think any team has gone though the highs and lows of the football season in the first few weeks like we have,” Hahnville head coach Nick Saltaformaggio said. “I got emotional on the bus on the way home and I told the kids I am so proud to be their coach and so proud of the way they played.”
However, Saltaformaggio is quick to criticize his team’s performance over the season in the second half, particularly in the third quarter.
“We are in triple overtime because we are totally inept in the second half. When you are playing teams like Rummel and Landry-Walker that have great football players and tradition, you don’t find yourselves in those situations,” he said. “I am the guy that is responsible for it. I am the head football coach.”
However, Saltaformaggio said Landry-Walker, who is ranked No. 9 in 4A, was a difficult team to match up against.
“I just think they were really, really good. They had a lot of college football players on the field,” he said.
Despite Landry-Walker fielding more than a handful of key players, Hahnville stormed out to a 20-7 lead in the first quarter and took a 27-13 lead into halftime. In the third quarter, and after a quarterback change, Landry-Walker mounted a comeback effort and tied up the game at 27-27 to take it into overtime before falling after three extra periods.
When asked how he thought Hahnville was doing on the season, Saltaformaggio cited his team’s rise in polls.
“We are ranked 10 in the state right now. I guess people thought we played pretty good. I can’t remember when the last time Hahnville was ranked No. 10,” he said.
Hahnville is hoping to ride that success into Friday’s game against Thibodaux.
The biggest question for Hahnville is how Perrin will adjust to being thrust into the role as starting quarterback.
Perrin gave Neal competition prior to the season, but by the time the starting lineup was named Saltaformaggio said Neal was the clear choice.
“It was more of Mike’s commitment to our program in the summer. That is what is heartbreaking for me. Mike worked really, really hard over the summer. He was in the weight room every morning and at practice on Wednesday night,” Saltaformaggio said. “It is a bad break, no pun intended.”
Despite the change at arguably the most important position on the field, Saltaformaggio is not anticipating a change in his offense’s performance.
“We are fortunate this is Hahnville High School and we have a lot of really good players…Austin Perrin is one of them,” Saltaformaggio said.
As for Thibodaux, Saltaformaggio said their impressive offensive line has been the key to their success.“It is typical Thibodaux up front. They are big and built like blocks of granite,” he said.
Running behind the big line is senior quarterback Peyton Bonvillian and running back Jaquan Chenier, who both had big games in their toughest competition of the year in a home opener against Archbishop Shaw. In that game Bonvillian had 130 yards rushing and three touchdowns and Chenier racked up 183 yards and two touchdowns.
“Chenier is 220 or 230 pounds, so I am little worried about him,” Saltaformaggio said.
On the defensive side of the ball, Saltaformaggio will be looking out for Thibodaux’s linebacker corps.
“They have two stout linebackers. They are pretty consistent at what they do,” he said.
Overall, Saltaformaggio said Thibodaux looks like yet another formidable opponent, but that his team is going to approach the game in the same way they approach every game – with consistency.
“I am looking for a win. I am looking for it every week,” he said.
Hahnville will host Thibodaux at 7 p.m. on Friday.