Tigers size up major test at home against Jesuit

Devonte Clark
Hahnville rusher Devonte Clark looks for a hole to power through.

Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio remembers a struggle last year against Jesuit, which left Hahnville with a 17-0 defeat in 2015 jamboree fare. It’s a night he isn’t keen on seeing repeated as his Tigers prepare to host the Blue Jays once again this season Thursday night—junior varsity kickoff is set for 6 p.m. with the varsity to follow. “We didn’t compete at all last year,” Saltaformaggio said. “When you consider how highly thought of Jesuit is, they’re at that level of the best teams we’re going to play this season. They put a whoopin’ on us last year. If we come out and lay an egg, that’s not going to be a really great sign for us.”

While Saltaformaggio wants to see a better showing from his players, he’s admits he’s not the biggest fan of the jamboree tradition itself.

“I don’t really believe in them,” he said. “If we win, it doesn’t count. And if you lose, you feel terrible about yourselves, even though it doesn’t count,” he said. “The biggest hope I have, above all else, is you don’t see anyone get injured.”

But the jamboree is nonetheless in play and Saltaformaggio plans to take advantage of the live action. It will be the first test of the Tigers’ kicking game in live action this year — an element the defensive-minded coach puts heavy emphasis on — and it represents the first live action senior quarterback Austin Perrin has seen since his sophomore season.

Most of all, Jesuit will test Hahnville’s physicality, particularly in the matchup of the Blue Jays’ offensive line against Hahnville’s defensive line.

“Their offensive line is mammoth,” Saltaformaggio said. “They’ve got two of the premier offensive tackles in the state, and that’s not to take away from their excellent interior line. Their staff does an outstanding job preparing them and you’re going to play, really, a team that’s about as close to midseason form as you’re gonna get at this point. The question is whether we can match their intensity. We’ll have to.”

Hahnville largely dominated their home scrimmage last Friday night against Northshore, shutting the Panthers out and scoring four touchdowns in their first 18 plays, two by the first team and two by the second team.

Anthony Williams hauled in a pass from Perrin to score from 45 yards out for the Tigers’ first touchdown, while the first team’s second score came on a 1-yard plunge by Cade Miguez. The second team scored on a 1-yard score by Jayce Myers and a 25-yard touchdown pass from Dalton Melancon to Noah Zeringue.

Hahnville narrowly missed a chance to add another score on a Perrin 80-yard touchdown pass to Devonte Clark, but a block in the back penalty wiped it out.

Saltaformaggio was pleased with the start of the scrimmage but said the Tigers need to do a better job sustaining a high level of play. His biggest criticisms were that the offense didn’t flow as well after those early four scores, and defensively he cautioned that there will be struggles ahead if improvement on third down isn’t made. While Northshore didn’t score in the scrimmage, Saltaformaggio noted the Panthers put together some long drives.

“We have to be more effective in our ability to get off the field defensively,” Saltaformaggio said. “We weren’t good on third down and they exposed that a little bit. Northshore’s front seven defensively really got the better of our offensive line later in the scrimmage and we didn’t protect Austin well enough. We’ve got some key things to work on.”

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