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Hahnville has some concerns going into Friday night’s season opener

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  • George Becnel
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  • August 29, 2017 - 2:00pm

File photosThe Hahnville Tigers of fourth-year coach Nick Saltaformaggio open the season at home against the West Jefferson Buccaneers on Friday night.

Nick Saltaformaggio has some concerns as his Hahnville Tigers prepare to play host to West Jefferson on Friday night.

“We are still kind of searching,” the fourth-year Hahnville coach said. “I thought we were really, really good about how we played against Northshore (in a scrimmage), which went out and got a really nice jamboree win and then we played Jesuit and we were a penalty-laden, turnover-laden football team. You are not going to win a lot of games like that, especially with the teams we are playing at the front part of our schedule.”

The list of concerns continues.

“Another thing that concerns me tremendously is we have not come up with any complement to Anthony (Williams) and Jha’Quan (Jackson). We are a two-man show offensively. We are not a good vertical passing team at this time. Our perimeter blocking is a little shaky. We’ve got to find another one or two skilled kids to help some of the burden that are on Anthony and Jha’Quan’s backs,” Saltaformaggio said.

All is not negative for the Hahnville coach, however.

“On the positive note, I still feel like we are playing as good a defensive football as we’ve played since I have been head coach here. I like where we are defensively. Defense is about momentum, continuing to build where we left off. It’s something we need to keep working on but I’m happy where we are defensively,” Saltaformaggio said.

Of the teams at the front part of the schedule for Hahnville, Cyril Crutchfield and his Buccaneers are up first.

“They definitely are a spread team,” said Saltaformaggio. “They want to throw the ball and get you in some downfield matchup issues vertically. It will be another night where I secondary has to play pretty well.”

The Buccaneers don’t just throw the football – they throw it a lot.

“As a matter of fact, our breakdown of them is 67-33 pass to run. That is contradictory of what I like to do. I like the number the other way,” Saltaformaggio said.

Throwing the ball for West Jefferson is quarterback Wallace Lucs. He had a number of targets in Dijon Singleton, Joshua Smith and Malik Hill.

“When they do run the ball, it’s when Charles Hayward is in the game and Derrick Johnson is in at running back,” Saltaformaggio pointed out.

Hayward is a good blocker as a tight end and H-back type on offense along with being the only returning defensive starter at end.

The 2017 West Jefferson defense, Saltaformaggio said, is typical of past Crutchfield-coached teams.

He will put eight, and sometimes nine, guys on the line of scrimmage,” the Hahnville coach said of his counterpart. “He’s going to run through vacated gaps and he will play man on the outside. They are one of the teams we play this year that is equally as talented as far as speed is concerned to what we have. We are playing a team that can match us speed-wise.”

What will be the game plan for the Tigers against the West Jefferson defense?

“We are really going to have to do a good job of sealing the inside offensively and not let them get their blitz game going. We have to find a way to get the ball over the top to somebody. We have to find a deep receiving threat that can make the 50-50 catch down the field. If we are able to do that, it will get people out of the box on us. If I’m coaching against us, I’m crowding the line of scrimmage. We have not shown any ability to throw the ball at all,” Saltaformaggio said.

Other top defenders come from the Buccaneers’ secondary with Smith and Greg Brooks at cornerback, along with Singleton and Tyrus Gayden at safety.

Weather conditions could be poor Friday night but might be mitigated by the fact Hahnville has an artificial turf playing surface. The weather, Saltaformaggio said, might be a bigger factor in practice than in the actual game.

“I think Friday coming onto turf (the Buccaneers) will throw the ball no matter what. I know those guys don’t have a turf practice field so during the week, how much reps will they get throwing the ball? For us, it’s going to be to be mentally tough enough not to let the rain bother you at practice. We’re practicing; we have turf. If there’s no lightning, we will be on the field practicing,” the Hahnville coach said.

George Becnel | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

George Becnel is an award-winning journalist and has been a sports writer and editor for more than 30 years.