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- George Becnel
- October 11, 2018 - 12:21pm
With five, 15-yard penalties in the first half alone, it was far from pretty, but the Hahnville Tigers will take it.
What they will take is the 33-7 non-district win over Pearl River last week that snapped a four-game losing streak.
While still unable to throw the football, the Tigers found their running game as Hahnville rushed for 329 yards on the ground, with Brandon Comardelle leading the way with 209 yards.
“At the end of the night, we were able to get a win and Thibodaux comes to us, and hopefully, we can get a district win. If we can win this one, we can play the next three weeks with an opportunity to be a playoff team, which a week ago, I thought wasn’t going to be the case. We’ll just see,” Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio said.
The running game clicked for the now 2-4 Tigers, although the passing game remains a work in progress.
Jha’quan Jackson, last year’s starter at quarterback, moved to his natural receiver position with the expected arrival of Andrew Robison. With Robison being declared ineligible, Jackson was moved back to quarterback. As the Tigers’ offense struggled, Jackson was moved back to receiver and sophomore Drew Naquin inserted as the starting quarterback. With the passing woes continuing, Jackson will again see time at quarterback, but not on a full-time basis.
“We moved Jha’quan back to quarterback a little bit to give him some wildcat runs,” Saltaformaggio explained. “There are so things we can do now. We can throw the hitches out to him. I think for the first time since I have been the head coach at Hahnville High School, we have thrown the ball on first down – and completed it. That was an amazing feat in itself.
“We are trying to move the ball any way we can. If we can keep (Jackson) involved, it will be about running the football until we grow up a little bit more at quarterback.”
Thibodaux has played musical chairs at quarterback in recent weeks as well. Starter Luke Alleman was suspended and missed the Tigers’ 49-10 Week 5 loss to Destrehan. That led to Tyren Young moving from receiver to quarterback.
Alleman was back for Thibodaux’s 50-7 loss last week to Terrebonne but was injured during the game. That has put Young back at quarterback for the Lafourche-based Tigers.
“It scares me a little bit because we are not a very good perimeter run defense. He (Young) will make a lot of plays with his feet. He’s going to move the ball with his feet and keep plays alive with his feet. He throws it just well enough that you have to defend their vertical passing game. We can’t sit up there and crowd the line of scrimmage. We have to tackle well. He’s a problem for us,” Saltaformaggio said.
While the insertion of Young gives Thibodaux an athletic playmaker at quarterback, the move does change the offense in another way, according to Saltaformaggio.
“What him being at quarterback does is it takes away the jet sweep game away from them. He was the jet sweep guy. Tyren Young and Luke Alleman are pretty much interchangeable in that respect, so they will have to put another guy in,” Saltaformaggio said.
That guy may be Darwin Davis.
“He’s a kid that caught some balls the other day against Terrebonne. He looks like he’s a very athletic kid,” said Saltaformaggio.
At 6-foot, Davis is part of a tall receiving corps that also includes 6-foot-1 Marquel Price, 6-foot-2 Devonte’ Davis and 6-foot-3 Kyren Lacy.
“Where we have played well is our secondary. Our corners have played very well. Hopefully, they will continue to play well out there right now. We are getting physical safety play,” Saltaformaggio said.
Thibodaux’s top runner is Ferronte Miller.
“He’s a good player – and he may run for 200 yards against us – but after going through the two we saw from Pearl River and John Emery (of Destrehan) the week before and Chaz Ward of Terrebonne and the kid at Brother Martin and Ehret, we’ve seen some good backs this year,” Saltaformaggio said.
Thibodaux and Hahnville, Saltaformaggio said, are similar in areas beyond changes at quarterback.
“If we moved Jha’quan to quarterback, we would be mirror images of each other,” the Hahnville coach said. “We’re big up front on the offensive line and don’t block particularly well. They are big up front and don’t block particularly well. They have running backs kind of in the same mold as our running backs. Their passing game is suspect. Our passing game – we only threw six times the other night – it was almost non-existent.
“The difference between the two of us is they are very athletic and quarterback and we are not at all.”
Both teams also are based out of the 3-3 Stack, although there are differences between the teams in terms of their approach to the alignment.
“It’s a little bit different than our Stack. We will walk a guy down a lot and kind of look like a 50 with a drop end. They do not. They are pretty true to staying in the Stack. Their inverts (safety-linebacker hybrids) are better than ours so they can defend the perimeter with their invents. They don’t have to do a lot of slants and things like that,” Saltaformaggio explained.
Thibodaux has some size up front on defense, including Jaden Harry and 6-foot-2, 285-pound J’mari Robertson.
“They are not atypical of what we’ve seen. Since I’ve been here coaching Thibodaux, they’ve always had big, good-looking kids. They always will have big, tall physical kids,” said Saltaformaggio.
A pair of top defenders are inside linebackers Hunter Trosclair and Khalil Brisco.
The players in the secondary, Saltaformaggio said, are typical of Thibodaux defensive backs.
“They’ve always had those 5-foot-10, 160-pound kids that can run. We don’t throw the ball, so it’s about how they tackle,” the Hahnville coach said.
Hahnville goes into Friday’s game 2-4 overall while Thibodaux is 3-3. Both teams are 1-2 in District 7-5A and have no margin of error left to their seasons.
“I just think it comes down on who wants to take a win and move on with their season,” Saltaformaggio said.