Tigers seeking improvement as Pearl River makes homecoming visit

Jace Meyers of Hahnville

Hahnville head coach Nick Saltaformaggio knows the message that’s being hammered home in the Pearl River locker room as the Rebels prepare to visit Tiger Stadium in non-district action this Friday night.

“Teams believe that if they’re gonna get Hahnville, this is the year,” Saltaformaggio said. “It’ll be the same for Pearl River. They want to get that win on their resume, and they’re gonna be physical.”

It’s unfamiliar territory for both Hahnville and Saltaformaggio, last Friday marking a fourth consecutive loss for the Tigers as Terrebonne earned a 41-0 victory that represents Terrebonne’s second win over Hahnville since 1983.

The team has certainly been snake-bit through the first half of the season, down its preseason starters at quarterback (Andrew Robison) and running back (Darryle Evans) and a key offensive lineman (Brant Griffin). Saltaformaggio himself only just returned from a four-game suspension last Friday.

Saltaformaggio called his players resilient and said getting through this rough patch means sticking together.

“The only way to get out of this is to keep working,” he said. “Guys gotta believe in their teammates and themselves. Hahnville doesn’t get down often and when it happens, they don’t stay down. These are the same guys who coached in last year’s championship game and the same goes for a lot of our players.

“But right now, the bottom line is no matter what week we’re in or who we play, it’s going to take us maximum effort to win. And that’ll be the same deal Friday night.”

LAST SEASON: Hahnville defeated Pearl River 49-7 to move to 4-2 behind three Jha’Quan Jackson touchdowns and two more from Pooka Williams. The Tigers dominated the first half and many reserves saw time in the second half.

HOW THE REBELS ATTACK: Joe Harris has taken over as the Rebels’ head coach, and the Wing-T enthusiast has his team 5-0.

Saltaformaggio is plenty familiar with an option-style offense, as he employed one prior to his tenure at Hahnville and in his first season with the Tigers.

“Off the bat, you know they’ll be physical,” Saltaformaggio said. “A lot of belly and power, the inside run game and outside speed, with play-action coming off that. I think when you run the ball like that, you’re tougher on defense because it’s what you practice against every day. This will be a physical and tough team.”

He said the option also can present a number of challenges for defenses based on how relatively rare option teams are these days.

“With everyone spread out all over the field now, you won’t get that kind of physical game coming at you often,” Saltaformaggio said. “We have to prepare for a number of things you don’t see a lot of.”

Quarterback Justin Dean and wide receiver Ethan Levy are a duo that gives Pearl River big play capability.

Defensively, Pearl River employs heavy use of zone and attempts to keep the offense from garnering splash plays over the top.

“They make you earn it,” Saltaformaggio said, adding Pearl River’s excellent kicking game helps with that aim as well.

TO TURN THE PAGE, CAN’T TURN IT OVER: For Hahnville (1-4, 0-2) to find its footing, it’ll start with protecting the football. The Terrebonne loss saw Hahnville turn it over four times to go along with a blocked punt.

Saltaformaggio said there is much focus going into that area, but at the same time, it’s also a sign that youth must be served.

“Some of fixing it comes with just getting older at those positions,” Saltaformaggio said. “A lot of guys are underclassmen and that can come down to the speed of the game being so different from middle school, JV and freshman ball. You gain experience and you get bigger, faster, stronger, you’re able to maintain your grip on the ball a little more.

“We’re not there yet. It’s gonna take a lot of work. We have to continue to play hard and believe the sun will indeed come up.”


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