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Hahnville passing game work in progress with Crusaders up next

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  • George Becnel
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  • September 12, 2017 - 8:22pm

File photosJha'Quan Jackson and the Hahnville passing game remain a work in progress as the Tigers prepare to take on Brother Martin in Week 3 action on Friday night.

All Nick Saltaformaggio could do was shake his head at the thought of Hahnville’s 46-41 loss to John Ehret a week ago.

“It was one of those games where if things could go wrong for us, they went wrong for us,” lamented Saltaformaggio. “We had two (long) kickoff returns (including one for a touchdown). We’ve only had one turnover all year and we cause a fumble and they pick it up and returned it 87 yards.

“It was one of those games, going into it with the amount of talent that they had and the talent we had, it would go down to who had the ball last. Even with all of those things that went wrong, we got a fourth-and-1 to keep a drive alive to go in and win the game and they make a play and we turn right around and force them into a fourth-and-1 and we don’t make the play. They pick up the first down and we are 1-1 now.”

The focus now for the Tigers is to get above .500 against a visiting Brother Martin team Friday night that is seeking its first win of the season.

“In the history of their school, Brother Martin has never started 0-2, which means they have never been 0-3 and they have John Curtis next week,” said Saltaformaggio. “I know, much like John Ehret last week, we are going to get Brother Martin’s best game.

“We will get their ‘A’ game. We will have to play our ‘A’ game because I look at programs like Brother Martin or a Jesuit or a St. Charles Catholic and everything that has to be done right during the week and then on Friday night, they’re going to do. They may not show up with the most talented kids but by the fact their kids will be at practice all week and the kids will practice hard all week, there won’t be any disturbances in schools during the week. Then on Friday night, maybe that lack of talent is overcome by the fact they do everything right.”

The Crusaders of coach Mark Bonis are coming off a 29-0 loss to Warren Easton. They utilize three running backs in Joshua Payne-Morgan, Chris Smith and Ryan Rouege to try and replace workhorse back Bruce Jordan-Swilling, who is now at Georgia Tech.

“Usually Payne-Morgan and Smith are the downhill guys,” Saltaformaggio explained. “They will run the football where the play is designed to go. Rouege, a ninth grader, is more of a guy that looks for a crease and he will cut it all the way back against the motion of the play.

“On top of that, Brady Faust is a really, really good receiver. He’s a tough guy to handle. They motion him a lot and get the ball to him in a little bit of space. He’s a real good athlete.”

Brother Martin has an experienced quarterback in senior John-Paul Pierce.

“He’s kind of similar to the guys we’ve played the last two weeks,” said Saltaformaggio, comparing Pierce to West Jefferson’s Wallace Lucas and Travis Mumphrey of John Ehret. “He’s a tall kid that’s got good feet and he keeps plays alive with his feet. He’s played a lot of football in high school as a quarterback. He will not be in awe or shaken by the environment.”

A big Brother Martin offensive line, which is typical of Catholic League schools, is anchored by Zachary Breaux. The 6-foot-4, 323-pound guard is a University of Louisiana at Monroe commitment.

“It’s a typical Brother Martin offensive front. They are big and physical and play with great pad level,” said Saltaformaggio.

The Crusaders feature an odd front on defense.

“They will play a lot of defensive linemen,” Saltaformaggio said. “They roll five, six, seven defensive linemen to keep those guys fresh. They have two really good defensive players in Matthew Alfonso and Brendan Brown. They are outside linebackers. They do a great job of setting the edge on their defense. They are very good tacklers. They have an inside linebacker, Jabari Watts, that kind of reminds me of the kid we had here last year – Trevon Honor. They are even kind of build alike.”

The Tigers were 0 of 2 passing in their win over West Jefferson and only 2 of 6 passing for 36 yards a week ago against Ehret. Those numbers, Saltaformaggio said, will have to improve as the season progresses.

“We have got to be able to throw the football a little bit. We’ve got to get people off of us,” the Hahnville coach said. “I remember saying that we weren’t going to rush for 425 yards against John Ehret but we rushed for about 360. It’s a double-edge sword. If we can keep running the football the way we are running it, I’m not as panicked about not having a passing game but I still know that there will be a point in the year when we have to be able to throw the ball.”

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.