Hahnville looking to see improved play from defense
It’s a festive mood around Hahnville High School these days.
The Tigers are perfect thus far this season at 7-0. They celebrate their homecoming Saturday afternoon, with H.L. Bourgeois (1-6, 0-4) headed to Tiger Stadium as guest and opposition. Hahnville would rank as a top two seed were the playoffs to start today. The game has been rescheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday due to weather.
The students are spirited, the players and coaches are proud, and when it comes to a place with a winning tradition like Hahnville, the spoils of winning lends to the kind of atmosphere few places can match.
“Our student body, I can’t say enough about them,” said Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio. “You see it every Friday night, their energy, their spirit. Our band, there’s not enough in my vocabulary to voice the accolades they deserve, they’re instrumental in our success. Our cheer, flag and dance teams, our pep squad … it’s a special place.”
But being the coach of a team with state championship aspirations doesn’t lend much in the way of an ability to stop and smell the roses. And while Hahnville is unbeaten this deep into the season for the first time in his tenure as coach — and for the first time in several years for the program as a whole —Saltaformaggio said his Tigers need to address something critical before it costs them everything.
The Tigers’ defense, Saltaformaggio said, cannot continue on as it has for the past month.
Hahnville (7-0, 4-0) has allowed 27, 28, 0 and 30 points, respectively, over the past four weeks, the lone shutout coming at East St. John, with Terrebonne, Thibodaux and Central Lafourche all finding firm footing on the offensive side of the ball.
Early in the season, defense was the Tigers’ calling card. Lately, it’s been offense. To win a championship, Saltaformaggio says it’ll have to be both.
“We have to go back and find our identity on the defensive side of the ball,” said Saltaformaggio. “We haven’t been a good defensive football team over the past four weeks, aside from at East St. John. So I asked our kids, which is it? Is the anomaly East St. John? Or is it what happened to us last week? It’s my big concern right now. If we don’t figure this out, it’s gonna keep us out of the state championship game, because it’s gonna cost us big at some point.”
Saltaformaggio said the team’s offense and special teams have seen consistent improvement throughout the season, but the defense has fallen back from a dominating first few weeks that saw the Tigers first team defense allow just 13 offensive points.
“We’re being carried by our offense right now,” Saltaformaggio said. “The coin’s completely flipped from the start of the season. We’re not tackling well. We’re struggling with alignment, with getting lined up. We’re not aggressive and tenacious, and we need to be. Until we address that, we’re in a place where I can only hope we keep scoring like we’ve been scoring.”
It’s where the bulk of his focus will be against Bourgeois, which comes in on a four game losing streak. The Braves bested Ellender in Week 3, but have fallen to East St. John, Destrehan, Terrebonne and Central Lafourche.