- Feature Story
- Game Preview
- George Becnel
- October 19, 2017 - 1:34pm
A lot is riding on the outcome for both Hahnville and East St. John in their encounter Friday night at Joe Keller Stadium in Reserve.
“If we can get this win, we will be in a very good spot. Also this week, it’s about power points,” Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio said. “We are 5-2 and we actually lost two spots in the power rating. We went from nine to eleven. I think we have a chance if we can do over the next three weeks what I think we can do to finish six or seven.
“While it’s great to win a district championship – and we are certainly looking at that prize – it’s about the best possible seed you can get in Week 11. That’s where this game comes into play.”
Along with being 5-2 overall, the Tigers are 3-0 in District 7-5A. East St. John enters the contest 4-3 overall and 3-1 in league play so a win by Hahnville puts HHS in the driver’s seat for the district title while a victory for ESJ could allow the Wildcats to claim at least a share of the league title.
“You know you are playing East St. John and they will be very athletic. We have to try to match intensity with intensity. They are playing at home. They are going to be fired up. They know if they beat us they will be in a share for the lead in the district. We know if we beat them, we’ve gone through the major hurdles. If you look at it on paper, the major hurdles being Destrehan, Thibodaux and East St. John, but you never know because, obviously, Terrebonne is a really good team now,” Saltaformaggio said.
For Hahnville to get a step closer to a district title, the Tigers will have to contain ESJ quarterback Dasmain Crosby. Crosby is coming off a five-touchdown performance in a 36-28 come-from-behind victory over Terrebonne.
“We have to be able to pressure Dasmain Crosby,” Saltaformaggio said. “He looks to throw the ball. He’s unlike the guys we’ve seen the last couple of weeks from Terrebonne and Thibodaux. Those guys, when they get a little pressure on them, they are looking to make plays with their feet. Crosby has got his eyes downfield. He’s looking to make the big connection downfield. It’s important for us to stay in our drops and make sure we have all the route combinations covered and that make sure our zones are in the right spot and not give up the big ball.”
Favorite targets for Crosby include 6-foot-4 receiver Javon Antonio and Hoxie Brown, a 6-foot-3 tight end.
“We are not particularly tall in the secondary. We need to beat up those guys at the line of scrimmage and not let them get in jump-ball situations and not let them get in their routes very well,” said Saltaformaggio.
Shelvin Keller, at 5-foot-7, is a factor both in the passing game and the rushing attack.
“He’s a guy we are very conscious of in space. We don’t want to give him a lot of space because he is more athletic than what we play with on our second level,” Saltaformaggio said.
Others who get involved in the running game for the Wildcats include Calvin Gardner, Pershing Toney and Prentice Cook.
For Hahnville to win the contest, Saltaformaggio said, the Tigers have to dictate what type of game will be played Friday.
“The worst thing that can happen for us is for the game to become a track meet. They will want to make it a track meet and we will want to pound it out on them. This is a game that our offense has to impose its will. If our offensive line can compose its will, we should be fine,” the Hahnville coach said.
The 2017 East St. John defense is typical of past Wildcat teams, Saltaformaggio said.
“They will give you an eight-man front and they will put a lot of speed at the line of scrimmage. They are not overly big up front but what they do do well is they in those gaps and they pressure you up front. They will play a lot of man coverage in the secondary, especially against us where they will match up their skill against our skill,” said Saltaformaggio.
Top defenders for the Wildcats include linebacker D’Andrea Pittman and defensive back Jarius Monroe.
“I don’t look at them defensively and see an overly intimidating group of guys. What I look at them and see defensively is a group of guys that really run to the ball well. They try to force you into doing something bad instead of just stonewalling you,” said Saltaformaggio.
Although Hahnville has not thrown the ball much this season, the Tigers have found ways to be more diverse without putting the ball in the air, Saltaformaggio said.
“What’s important for us is that we don’t just become a ‘Pooka’ team,” said Saltaformaggio, referring to Anthony Williams. “We haven’t been recently. Daryle Evans has been a tremendous contributor for us. Jha’Quan (Jackson) has run the ball well for us. Michael Gray on the speed sweeps has run the ball well for us. We’ve found a way to become multi-dimensional without being prolific in the passing game.”
While the hype around Friday’s game may be Hahnville’s prolific running game against East St. John’s athleticism and big-play potential, the contest likely will be determined at the line of scrimmage, according to Saltaformaggio.
“We are going to be in a football game where they will want to be explosive vertically down the field and we’re going to want to put it in the hands of our offensive line. In my entire career as a coach, I’ve always believed you win football games up front,” the Hahnville coach said.