- Feature Story
- Game Preview
- George Becnel
- October 03, 2017 - 6:11am
It’s a different kind of week for Nick Saltaformaggio as his Hahnville Tigers prepare to visit Pearl River in non-district action.
“Our kids will play on a Thursday night, which our kids don’t do a whole lot. We will be playing on grass, which is something we don’t do very often. We are playing a team whose head coach is a graduate of Hahnville and played football at Hahnville, Boomer Danford. I’m sure he will have them fired up and ready to go. They are only playing nine games this year so a fifth win assures them of a winning season. They will throw their best game at us,” Saltaformaggio said.
After grueling five-game stretch to open the season that has left Hahnville 3-2 on the year, the Tigers are an assortment of bumps and bruises.
“My concern is we are really, really beat up right now. For the first time since I have been a head coach, we’re not even going to pad up this week,” said Saltaformaggio.
For the first time since he has been a head coach, a Saltaformaggio team will not pad up a single day in preparation for a game.
“We have kind of gone through a meat grinder the last month,” Saltaformaggio said. “When the season schedule came out, we thought we could take breath when you get to district. We had beaten Terrebonne last year 48-0 but this isn’t your momma’s Terrebonne. They were a talented football team and a physical football team.”
In some cases, the injuries are more than just bumps and bruises. Logan Robert, perhaps Hahnville’s top defender, may be out for the season.
“He will have surgery Wednesday. We know for sure it’s a torn meniscus. We’re hoping it’s not an ACL. On top of that, Anthony (Williams) is beat up. He’s had a lot of carries the last couple of weeks. Our offensive line is a little beat up because of the way we are playing football right now.”
Hahnville takes on a Pearl River team may not have played the same type of schedule as the Tigers, but at 4-1 through five games, the Rebels have equaled their win total for all of 2016.
“For us, the important part about it is the number of points we would get. Last week was good for us point-wise. It’s all about seeding in the state playoffs. Last week at this time, we weren’t even in the state playoffs. I think we were like 39th in the power ratings,” said Saltaformaggio.
The Rebels will line up in numerous formations but the objective is to run the football, according to Saltaformaggio.
“They are a multiple set, multiple kind of attack coming at you. You couldn’t designate them as an ‘I’ team or wing team or option team or a spread team. They are kind of all of that, but at the end of the day, they want to run the football. We will get a lot of two-back offense out of them. We’re looking to see a kind of power football team,” the Hahnville coach said.
Guiding the offense is quarterback Justin Dean.
“Their quarterback is a good football player, Justin Dean. He’s a big kid. He’s not overly fast but he runs with a lot of authority. They are big up front. Their offensive line has some nice-sized kids,” said Saltaformaggio.
Top runners include Corey Warren and Courtney Moore.
“For us defensively, it’s going to be align and assign. It will be old-school defensive football – just align right and play assignment football and we should be OK, said Saltaformaggio.
Pearl River’s defense, Saltaformaggio said, is pretty basic.
Defensively, they are a vanilla split-4 team. They are not going to beat you defensively with flash. They will line up and play physical, fundamental football. The core of their defense is their linebacker corps,” said Saltaformaggio.
Top linebackers include Chase Brown and Austin Stodard.
The Tigers are 2-0 in District 7-5A and with a non-district game, they get to sit back and watch the other league foes beat each other up for another week.
“To me, I’ve always leaned towards the most power points you can get and getting the highest power rating you can get going into the playoffs,” Saltaformaggio said. “But I know winning a district championship puts a bigger number on that board outside (the field house listing district and state titles). It’s something the kids can bring with them.
“This senior group, since we’ve gotten here, has really kind of correct the woes in the program when I first arrived. They have an opportunity – if they can find a way to win every week for the next five weeks – they will finish with a 30-10 regular-season record as an incoming freshman group, which is outstanding. Also, they have been in two quarterfinals and a second-round playoff appearance and if we finish as strong as I think we can, we could make another deep playoff run.”