Hahnville attempts to make it four wins in a row Friday night when it hosts District 7-5A foe H.L. Bourgeois in the Tigers’ final regular season home game, and the stakes are high.
“We’re both 5-3 … they’re playing for exactly the same things we are,” Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio said. “Both teams are looking to get to the state playoffs. We’re mirror images in a lot of ways.”
Hahnville unofficially sits at No. 12 in the Class 5A public school power point rankings, meaning the Tigers are in line to host an opening round playoff game, as each of the top 16 seeds will. H.L. Bourgeois, meanwhile, is ranked No. 30; the Braves are right on the edge of the-32 team field and a win over the Tigers could cement a postseason spot.
The top concern for Hahnville, Saltaformaggio says, is containing H.L. Bourgeois quarterback Jude Lecompte, who triggers the Braves’ option attack. Hahnville and Saltaformaggio are very familiar with the option offense, after running it last season, but the Tigers haven’t faced that style of offense yet this season.
“(Lecompte) is a very good player and they’ve got big guys up front,” Saltaformaggio said. “We’re not very big defensively, so the number one thing, for us, is that we’ve got to be able to handle the option. You don’t see it often. That worked in our favor last season, but now we’re on the other side of it.
“When you have to take away the quarterback (as a runner), it really makes you play lockdown, assignment football. He’s their guy, and that puts a ton of pressure on you defensively.”
Bourgeois has scored 28 points or more in all but two games, a 14-7 defeat to Central Lafourche and a 56-12 loss to Destrehan last week.
Saltaformaggio said maintaining discipline is a large part of the battle when facing the option.
“You’ve got to play your assignments,” Saltaformaggio said. “The option negates the blitz, first off. If you’re responsible for the dive, you’ve got to take it. If you’re responsible for the quarterback, or the pitch man, you have to take them. It keeps you honest. Any indecisiveness becomes a big play.”
Running back Blaise Lecompte and wide receiver/running back Desean Walker are also big threats for the Braves. Tight end/linebacker Nicholas Langford is a jack of all trades, including kicking and punting duties.
The Tigers have recaptured their form defensively. After allowing 100 total points in losses to Destrehan and St. Thomas More, opponents have just scored 31 points total in the three games since. Hahnville has allowed 62 points in the six games outside of that two-game window of DHS and STM.
“I don’t think our play in those two games was indicative of the strength of our defense at all,” Saltaformaggio said. “At the same time, I feel like I have to watch myself, because the last time I talked about how good I thought we were defensively, we allowed 100 points over two games. I feel like we’ve been pretty solid for most of the season, though, and hopefully we continue that.”
Saltaformaggio praised the play of his defensive line, noting their part of that success. Ends Stephen Cloud and Travon Honor have been strong at the point of attack, with nose tackle Tre’Vas Chambers emerging as an impact player at nose tackle.
He also said the Tigers have simply willed themselves into good position.
“We still have some deficiencies on that side of the ball, but we’ve been able to make up for that by really, really hustling. That’s a credit to the guys we have,” Saltaformaggio said.
One of the stars of Friday night’s action last week was Norquell Flowers, who rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.
“He might be our most steady kid,” Saltaformaggio said. “He’s doing a lot of things really, really well and running with a lot of intensity. He’s more shifty than fast, but he’s got a good combination of those traits. I can tell you a performance like that wasn’t unexpected. He’s good.”