Hahnville hits the road for the first time this season on Friday — and they’re seeking some payback.
The Tigers (1-0) visit John Ehret (0-1) in a rematch of last season’s second round playoff matchup between the teams in which the then-10th-seeded Patriots eliminated 7th-seeded Hahnville, 35-28 in Boutte.
Both teams are considered contenders in Class 5A this season, so a win for either squad could go a long way toward securing a high seed once the postseason kicks off later this year.
All of that considered, Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio isn’t upholding a pretense that this is just another game — just the opposite, in fact, he says.
“It’s a game I’ve had circled since last year, personally,” Saltaformaggio said. “They knocked us out in state playoffs last year. It’s a highly-ranked team, so it’s game where you can make a name for yourself. So, for me personally, it’s a big game on our schedule.”
Ehret brings back a heavy contingent of starters, particularly on offense, where quarterback Travis Mumphrey has a wealth of weapons to throw to, including highly-recruited Jammal Houston, a 6-foot-2 speedster who has been clocked running a 4.4 40-yard dash, and Lorinzo Penn, a 6-foot-1 transfer from West Jefferson.
The one major change from last year’s Ehret squad is the team is no longer coached by Corey Lambert, who guided the team to the Class 5A state championship game in 2015. Lambert was dismissed before the season, with former Lambert assistant Del Lee-Collins serving as the team’s interim head coach.
Though the man calling the shots is different, Saltaformaggio sees plenty of similarities in this Ehret team and the one from last postseason.
“They really look the same,” Saltaformaggio said. “They’ve added some new guys out there, some weapons on offense. Defensively, that’s a typical Ehret football team. They’re big and they can run. Their front guys are really good (on the defensive line) and their linebackers are athletic and big. I think this is going to be a really good game.”
Ehret will be hungry for its first victory of the season in what will be its home opener Friday night. The Patriots fell against traditional power West Monroe in Week 1, the Rebels emerging with a 47-32 victory.
On its home field, West Monroe scored two touchdowns in the final nine minutes of play to put away Ehret. Junior running back Terrell Brown was key in leading an Ehret charge after the team fell behind 25-7 early on, finishing the night with 97 yards on 17 carries and scoring three touchdowns.
The Tigers have been suffocating against the run so far, which could bode well for their ability to corral Brown. Saltaformaggio credited linebackers Amontae Jernigan, Dylan Dejean and Logan Robert for their stout play, noting their performance is one key reason the coach believes this is the best Tigers defense he’s presided over in his four years with the team.
His team can also run the ball: Hahnville rolled up more than 400 rushing yards and scored seven times on the ground last week as it raced past visiting West Jefferson, 41-6.
Anthony Williams and Daryle Evans each scored twice to pace Hahnville. Quarterback Jha’quan Jackson and Jace Meyers added scores for the Tigers (1-0), who led 28-6 at the half.
For the second week in a row — counting its jamboree contest against Jesuit — Hahnville relentlessly pounded the defense via the run. The Tigers recorded no passing yards, but Jackson nonetheless made his presence known through his mobility, scoring the night’s first touchdown on a 39 yard run and giving the Warriors defense another dynamic threat to have to keep in check.
Williams led the way with 16 carries for 168 yards. He made it 14-0 later in the first quarter on a 44-yard touchdown run, then early in the second quarter it was Evans bursting for a 25-yard score to push Hahnville ahead 21-0.
Everything was clicking, Williams said. He added Jackson’s running ability helped create some open space for him.
“That opens it up a lot,” Williams said. “Once they start keying on him, that’s when I bust my runs. And line is still doing what they have to do and making way for him to make his own big runs.”
Hahnville led 28-0 before West Jefferson (0-1) got on the board on a Dijon Singleton touchdown reception from Wallace Lucas. But the Warriors couldn’t push further and Hahnville maintained control of the action.
“I thought they (the Hahnville defense) played great,” Saltaformaggio said. “I thought we completely shut the run down and kinda made them one dimensional. When you can do that and get pressure on the quarterback, you’re gonna have a good night.”