Non-district game nonetheless vital for Tigers to win

Though this we’’s certainly no less important for the Tigers to come out with a strong performance Thursday night at Pearl River.

With St. Tammany Parish teams pushing their games a night up due to the annual St. Tammany Parish Fair this weekend, it gives the both the Tigers and their opponents one less day to prepare. Once the teams hit the field, Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio hopes to see his squad earn a third straight win — and the power points that go with it. 

Last week, Hahnville (3-2, 2-0) was outside the playoff picture in terms of power points, as the top 32 teams qualify and HHS was not in that range. But after a victory over a previously unbeaten Terrebonne squad that ranked high in the top 10, the Tigers could find themselves much more within the range they’re used to with a victory over a 4-1 Pearl River program.

“Its non-district, but they’re 4-1. We need to get some power points,” Saltaformaggio said. “Hopefully we can jump up there. We’re definitely going in with the mindset that this is a win we need to have.”

Calling the shots for Pearl River is someone familiar to the Hahnville faithful: Jarrod “Boomer” Danford, a Tigers alum and former player. This is Danford’s first season as the team’s head coach and he has the Rebels off to their best start in many years. 

“He’ll have his guys ready to play, there’s little doubt of that,” Saltaformaggio said. “We’ll have to answer in kind.”

Last week, Pearl River trounced Haynes Academy 56-0, a game that saw the Rebels defense hold its opposition to negative yardage in the first half and just a single first down.

Courtney Moore led Pearl River in rushing with 77 yards on five carries. Corey Warren rushed 11 times for 69 yards.

“They’re very diverse offensively,” Saltaformaggio said. “They’re hard to really pin down because they’re not a downhill running team or an option or a spread attack. They’re kind of a power run game but out of a one-back look. They’ll have a double-slot look. You’ll get a lot of different formations from them, a lot of different guys carrying the ball, so we’ll have to align right and play assignment football.”

Defensively, Pearl River’s strength is at linebacker, Saltaformaggio said. That group will be tasked with containing a Tigers running game that has dominated for most of the season.

Saltaformaggio believes the Tigers’ running game has been so difficult to stop comes down, first and foremost, to the talent, size and durability of the offensive line. Larry Dixon, D’quinn Butler, Gabe Medina, Torin Borne, Edwin Wells have started each game this season together, alongside tight end Noah Zeringue. Their play, mixed with one of the state’ elite rushers in Anthony Williams, has created an attack generating high yardage totals week after week.

“We’ve found some different weapons, as well,” Saltaformaggio noted. “Anthony sees the bulk of the carries, but (quarterback) Jha’quan  (Jackson) has about 500 yards rushing. (Running back) Daryle Evans has about 250 yards rushing. (Wide receiver) Michael Gray has gotten more involved running the ball.

“When you’re aggressive up front blocking people and you have weapons and speed, you’ll be effective running the ball.”

That said, Saltaformaggio still wants to see improvement from his passing attack. The Tigers have kept the ball on the ground virtually all season and haven’t yet had a touchdown pass.

“Hopefully, we won’t get into another game that’s just pounding, pounding, pounding,” Saltaformaggio said of this week. “We’re a little beat up right now. We just went through a four week buzzsaw, including against a good and physical football team in Terrebonne last week. When you run it as much as we’re running it, it starts to put a little tread on the tires. We need to find a way to throw it a bit, because we’ll need to eventually.”

HAHNVILLE 52, TERREBONNE 35 — Hahnville and visiting Terrebonne went back and forth all night long in their District 7-5A showdown, but the Tigers made just a few more big plays in a 52-35 victory.

Anthony Williams scored four touchdowns – one on a punt return late that all but sealed the victory – while Jha’quan Jackson scored twice and Daryle Evans scored another touchdown.

It was the first loss of the season for Terrebonne (4-1, 0-1).

“We needed to get it,” Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio said. “They were the fourth ranked power point team in the state. I think we were 39th coming in, so we need to get these wins. We got a lot of points tonight.

“They’re gonna win more games. That’s the best Terrebonne team I’ve seen since I’ve been here. Their quarterback is excellent, he keeps plays alive. That’s a good football team.”

That said, neither team could contain the other’s running game, something that clearly left Saltaformaggio greatly concerned in the game’s aftermath.

“It was ugly,” he said. “You don’t win a lot of games playing defense like we did tonight. Our offense really carried us. Terrebonne’s got good skill kids … but we tackled very, very poorly tonight.”

Hahnville led 21-20 at halftime and came out the locker room in the third quarter hot, with Williams getting loose on a 61-yard touchdown run to make it 28-20 with 10:22 left in the quarter.

After a HHS defensive stop, Thomas Rasco added three more to Hahnville’s total on a 26-yard field goal to give his team some breathing room at 31-20.

Terrebonne answered on a 15-yard touchdown run by quarterback Ja’hki Douglas, who keyed the THS offense all night. That made it 31-28 with 10 minutes left in the final period.

A strong Jamel Byrd kickoff return – Terrebonne kicked away from Williams all night – set HHS up at the Terrebonne 48. Williams rushed for a 33 yard touchdown to make it a 10-point game again.

Terrebonne was backed up against its own goalline on the ensuing possession, and an apparent defensive touchdown by Hahnville’s Dylan DeJean on a fumble recovery in the endzone was waved off. The points quickly were added back to the scoreboard when Williams returned a THS punt for a touchdown to make it 45-28.

Each team added a touchdown from there to round out the scoring. 

Douglas rushed for two touchdowns and passed for two more to pace Terrebonne. Keshawn James also rushed for a touchdown.

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