Hahnville head football coach Nick Saltaformaggio knows his scheduling formula may not result in an unbeaten season, but that it’s nonetheless tried and true. Saltaformaggio has traditionally loaded up the front end of his schedule with opponents that annually boast talented rosters and who are steeped in winning tradition — not at all unlike Hahnville itself.
The Tigers have never emerged from the first half of its season with more than three wins under Saltaformaggio, but the results thereafter speak for themselves: Hahnville has yet to lose a game in the second half of any of his three regular seasons as Tigers coach, going a perfect 15-0 in weeks 6-10. More importantly, HHS has advanced to two quarterfinals over that span, and if Saltaformaggio has his way, the Tigers will be gunning for the rounds beyond that in the not too distant future.
“I think it’s important to play those really tough opponents and play them early,” he said. “One, it gives you time to heal, to get those big dogs out the way. Two, if you’re gonna make a run to the Superdome, you’re probably going to run into those guys somewhere else. You don’t want to play them late and then face them again two or three weeks later. And it simply makes you a better football team.
“It won’t guarantee you go 10-0. When two good football teams play, somebody’s leaving happy and somebody’s leaving sad. It doesn’t mean somebody’s leaving good and somebody’s bad.”
Naturally, this year’s Tiger schedule doesn’t lack for program starpower in the early going. Hahnville will play Jesuit in its jamboree, the two teams meeting for another year in what has become something of an annual tradition in recent years.
When the regular season begins, Hahnville will host West Jefferson in the Sept. 1 season opener. A week later, HHS travels to John Ehret. Week 3 will bring Brother Martin to Boutte for a showdown in Tiger Stadium.
Those games will lead Hahnville straight into what has also become a recent tradition—this time, not by choice, but by luck of the draw — a showdown with archrival Destrehan to kickstart District 7-5A competition. This will be the third consecutive season the schools have played in Week 4 to open district. The order of district opponents is drawn every two years for the next two seasons, and Hahnville and Destrehan have slotted against one another in the first week of 7-5A play in each of the past two drawings.
“I really don’t like it being that early, and I’m guessing (DHS coach Stephen Robicheaux) would say the same,” Saltaformaggio said. “I know they’ve got three extremely talented teams to contend with before that game, just like we do. But there’s no easy way to do it.”
It will be the fourth regular season game between the schools and the fifth overall since Saltaformaggio took the helm at HHS in 2014. Destrehan has gone 5-0 in those games, four of those at Destrehan — of course, Saltaformaggio’s Tigers are hardly alone, the Wildcats are a perfect 28-0 over the past three regular seasons.
Each of Hahnville’s first five opponents — including Jesuit in the jamboree, were postseason qualifiers last season.
“It’s going to be a tough, tough stretch of football, no doubt about it,” Saltaformaggio said. “But if we get through it healthy and on the plus side of the ledger, that really bodes well for us.”
From there, Hahnville will host Terrebonne before traveling to Pearl River for the Tigers final non-district game. A battle with rival East St. John comes in Week 8 before Hahnville closes with a pair of games at home against Central Lafourche and H.L. Bourgeois, two teams Saltaformaggio believes will take a step forward this season.
“We have to manage it week by week by week,” Saltaformaggio said. “We can’t make any game bigger than the next. You’re looking at East St. John, Thibodaux, at very well coached Central Lafourche squad, an obviously improved program in H.L. Bourgeois. We’re looking at some good football teams in that second half.”
Hahnville will bring back seven starters on offense and just two on defense, though Saltaformaggio sounds confident in his stop unit nonetheless, noting most of the new starters got considerable playing time last season, in key situations in many cases. That should be a positive with so many strong foes early on, and may prepare his group with just enough of a challenge to make that second half leap yet again.
“These aren’t guys who haven’t played at all,” Saltaformaggio said. “They’ve played quality minutes in quality games.”
Hahnville 2017 Football Schedule
9/1 vs. West Jefferson
9/8 at John Ehret
9/15 vs. Brother Martin
9/22 at Destrehan*
9/29 vs. Terrebonne*
10/6 at Pearl River
10/13 at East St. John*
10/20 at Thibodaux*
10/27 vs. Central Lafourche*
11/3 vs. H.L. Bourgeois*
*Denotes district games