NOTE: Starting quarterback Andrew Robison was ruled eligible to play by an arbitrator on Tuesday evening.
Hahnville head coach Nick Saltaformaggio admits a 5-5 record isn’t what anyone in his locker room or in the HHS community envisioned or hoped for when the season began.
But a victory Friday night at H.L. Bourgeois would put the Tigers at that mark, and in many ways it would represent less about disappointment, and more about recovery and perseverance.
Hahnville (4-5, 2-3) crash landed out the gate this season to a 1-4 mark after five games, fighting through the suspension of its head coach, the late ineligibility ruling of its starting quarterback and myriad injuries to what was already a very young offense. If the Tigers can best Bourgeois, it will have flipped its record in the second half with a 4-1 mark and would cement a more favorable playoff position than many might have expected a month ago — when the postseason wasn’t, in fact, a promise at all.
“Even with a win, nobody is at all satisfied with 5-5,” Saltaformaggio said. “There were some losses that stick with me … but I feel like if we win this one Friday night, we can put a couple of terrible losses to bed .”
That’s largely because of the fight his players have shown to turn around what was shaping up to be a lost season, and one that came on the heels of a banner 2017 season at that. A team with high expectations can easily unravel after a slow start, but Saltaformaggio credited his players with staying the course.
Last week’s comeback effort to defeat Central Lafourche on the road was in many ways a microcosm of Tigers’ season so far: falling behind early after seemingly everything that could go wrong does exactly that, then shaking it off to move forward.
“That’s them. Our kids are never gonna quit,” Saltaformaggio said. “They’ve worked too hard to quit.”
HOW BOURGEOIS ATTACKS: The Braves (2-7, 1-4) operate out of multiple formations, for much of the year primarily operating the Wing-T option. That said, it doesn’t rely too much on any one mode of attack.
“They’re hard to define,” Saltaformaggio said. “They give you a lot of formations and you have to account for their playmakers. They move them all over”
Running back D’keyvion Sanders is the team’s primary weapon, taking snaps both at tailback and wide receiver – he’s often utilized on sweeps across the formation. Jordan Rainey and Connor Verdin have each seen time at quarterback this season, with Rainey leading the team primarily in last week’s game against Terrebonne. Durwin Jackson is the Braves’ most dangerous receiver.
Defensively, lineman Le’Kelan Bougere leads the way, Saltaformaggio calling him a “really good football player” up front.
The Braves have struggled mightily since an early district upset win over East St. John, however: Bourgeois’ last four games have each been defeats by margins of 28 or more.
LAST SEASON’S MATCHUP: Hahnville bested Bourgeois 49-0 at Tiger Stadium. Pooka Williams rushed 11 times for 124 yards and the Hahnville defense limited the Braves to just two first downs.