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Hahnville looks to rebound against Pearl River whopping 41-0 loss

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  • George Becnel
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  • October 04, 2018 - 12:51pm

File photosLess than a year after shaking hands with Zachary's David Brewerton (right) in the state championship, Nick Saltaformaggio's Tigers are 1-4 this season.


Did Hahnville finally bottom out in the struggling Tigers’ 41-0 loss last week to Terrebonne that left a team less than a year removed from playing for the state championship with a 1-4 record?

“Somebody sent me a quote that ‘You have to be all the way down to rise up higher than you’ve ever been,’” a reflective Saltaformaggio said.

“I think that was it Friday night,” the Hahnville coach said of his team perhaps bottoming out. “For me personally, it was the most devastating loss of my career. I think for Hahnville, it’s probably been the lowest they’ve ever been as a football program. Certainly, under me as the head coach. I take full responsibility for that.”

Last week’s game was witnessed first-hand by Saltaformaggio. The Hahnville coach had been serving a four-game suspension as part of the eligibility issue surrounding quarterback Andrew Robison.

“What (the assistant coaches) told me happened every week happened Friday night.  We’ve got a close game and then we seem to do all the things bad teams do – we get a punt blocked, we get a punt return (for a score), we averaged our four turnovers a game."

A struggling Hahnville offense, Saltaformaggio said, has caused the team to take some unusual approaches to games this season.

“We are having to do a lot of things that are unorthodox because we have no ability to score points,” Saltaformaggio said. “We are having to fake punts, surprise onside kicks and stuff like that. If you don’t get them, it gives your opponent a short field and when you play like Terrebonne that has good athletes, it can get ugly fast. It went from 13-0 to start the fourth quarter to 41-0 to end the game.”

“It’s just kind of where we are,” he continued. “We just have to work our way out of it. I think when you have a season like this, you find out the right kids to fix it. The last four years, everything was easy and fun. We were winning a bunch of games and we went to the state championship game. It kind of hides maybe some of the cracks in your foundation. When things aren’t fun, you find out real quick who’s willing to pay the price to get you better.”

The Tigers go from playing one undefeated team to another when they host Pearl River on Friday night.

“Pearl River is coming in here and they are 5-0. I think people would automatically assume Hahnville can beat Pearl River but that’s not the case this year,” Saltaformaggio said.

Pearl River represents a break from District 7-5A play for the Tigers.

“We lost battling as much as we could to our biggest rival and we get humiliated by a team that hadn’t beaten us in over 20 years. I almost kind of wish we didn’t have a game, where we would have a week to get better,” said Saltaformaggio.

The Rebels will bring their Wing-T attack to Boutte on Friday.

“Because we are not overly physical on defense, they are going to present some problems because they are going run downhill run plays at you. They will run the buck sweep, belly and power. They will come back and give you some misdirection with the wing. Their passing game is all built off of misdirection backfield movements,” Saltaformaggio explained.

Directing the attack is senior Justin Dean, a longtime starter for Pearl River.

“He’s an athletic kid,” Saltaformaggio said of Dean. “He’s a kid that’s got a pretty good arm but he’ a kid that also manages the Wing-T offense really well.”

Cornelius Warren is the Pearl River fullback, a key component to the Wing-T offense. Others who get carries for the Rebels include Austin Stodard and Devin Hart.

The Pearl River offensive line is anchored by 280-pound tackle Nicholas Howell.

Defensively, the Rebels are based out of a 50 defense but provide opponents with several different looks, according to Saltaformaggio.

“I don’t think they have any great players defensively but I do know they will give you a bunch of different fronts and because of that, are we going to be able to handle that kind of pre- and post-snap movement to block the right guys? If we can, maybe we can crease them a little bit. If we can’t, we will struggle to score points,” Saltaformaggio said.

The Tigers’ approach of trying something unorthodox in an attempt to generate some points have been reevaluated.

“We are going to start playing things closer to the vest,” said Saltaformaggio. “We will just try and grind out a score every now and again. Play position football on defense and hope at the end of the game we can get a win, but nothing is guaranteed.”

What would a win – even a non-district contest – do for a team that has been in turmoil?

“A win Friday night kind of makes you forget about that and you feel good about yourself until the next game,” Saltaformaggio 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.