Hahnville’s Anthony “Pooka” Williams put together a career night — and one for the ages.
The junior running back rushed for 355 yards and four touchdowns to lead his Tigers to a 44-27 victory over visiting Thibodaux Friday night, locking Hahnville in as District 7-5A runner-up and almost certainly wrapping up a top 10 seed for the postseason.
Williams took on a bigger workload after an early-game injury to senior running back Devonte Clark. Williams, who often shifts to wide receiver when the bigger Clark is in the game, had to take up residence at tailback for the duration of the night. He was up to the challenge.
“The line made the holes, and once they did, I did what I do best,” Williams said. “I was trying to get to (400 yards), I won’t lie. They alerted me on the sideline (of his statline). Once Devonte went down, I had to do it. I’ve gotta help my senior. He’s down and I had to step up.”
Nothing Williams does surprises Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio, who has long maintained Williams place in the hierarchy of top Louisiana players.
“I’ll keep saying it. He’s the best football player in the state of Louisiana,” Saltaformaggio said. “We felt like if we get him the ball with some creases, we’d be good and that’s what happened.
“Somebody needs to show me a better football player. I mean I know other teams have great ones … Karr has great ones. Brother Martin has a great one. Curtis, I’m sure has theirs … but they’re not him. I’m glad he’s a Hahnville Tiger.”
Thibodaux (6-4, 4-2) leaped out to a 13-0 lead in the game, kickstarting their night with Rochon Washington’s 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Hahnville rallied to score the next 20 points—including a touchdown runs of 24 and 70 yards by Williams — but a late Thibodaux score in the second quarter made it a 20-20 halftime tie.
A Dalton Melancon field goal capped Hahnville’s first drive of the second half to give HHS a 23-20 lead.
Then Thibodaux made one of its first big mistakes of the night when Kevon Williams was intercepted by Hahnville safety Hunter LeBlanc, who returned the pickoff for a touchdown to make it a 10-point Hahnville lead.
“The pick six was big,” Saltaformaggio said. “That was a huge turning point for us. It made the kids exhale a little bit.”
Thibodaux answered, driving 89 yards before Amik Robertson scored his second touchdown of the night, running it in from 12 yards out on a sweep to make it 30-27.
It took just one play for Hahnville (8-2, 5-1) to answer. After Williams made a kickoff return to the Thibodaux 34, he took it to the house on the first play of the drive to make it 37-27.
Thibodaux had a chance to turn the tide when Hahnville elected to go for it on fourth down in their own territory. THS stopped Williams in the backfield for a loss and took over on downs going into the fourth quarter. But after Hahnville pushed Thibodaux back to create a second-and-18 situation, Kevon Williams was intercepted by Elgin Collins, who returned the ball into Thibodaux territory and joined LeBlanc and Trevon Honor with pickoffs on the night. Williams capped the next drive with another scoring run and put the game away.
Now, all that is left for the Tigers this weekend is to learn their postseason seed and first round opponent. That news is set to be released Sunday.
“I’m excited,” Saltaformaggio said. “It’s gonna be a fun five weeks, I hope. We’re a really confident football team. We’ve been since that since that two-point play vs St. Thomas More. We’re a completely different football team since then. We’ll see where we are and who we match up with. We know at least two people have to come here. This is a tough place to play.”