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Saltaformaggio back on sidelines; game venue moved to Thibodaux

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  • By:
  • George Becnel
  • Posted:
  • September 27, 2018 - 6:29pm

File photosHead coach Nick Saltaformaggio returns to the sidelines as his Hahnville Tigers face Terrebonne on Friday night at Thibodaux High.

“I thought the Hahnville-Destrehan game played out the way we thought,” Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio said. “It’s just so hard for us to score. We go on a nine-minute, 16-play drive to score to take the lead and Destrehan comes right back and scores in four plays.

“We were spent. You could look at the film and see fatigue setting in.”

What Saltaformaggio saw on film last Saturday morning was his team losing 28-15 to rival Destrehan.

The next time Saltaformaggio looks at film, it will be as a review of his team’s performance the previous evening. That’s because his four-game suspension has come to an end and he will be on the sidelines at 7 p.m. Friday against Terrebonne at Thibodaux High. The game was originally slated to be played at Tom B. Smith Stadium in Houma but was moved due to poor field conditions.

“I’m excited about (his return) but I’m so proud of the job our staff did,” Saltaformaggio said. “People who don’t coach football don’t realize everything that goes into a Friday night game. If you’ve never been a head high school coach, you really don’t have a clue. The way Mike Silva stepped in and did such a great job with the emotional rollercoaster that goes into it. It’s not just the x’s and o’s on a Friday night. It’s who’s going to play, who’s not going to play. Are we going to throw the ball here? Are we not? What would ‘Salt’ do in this situation?

“I really took a step back the last four weeks because I didn’t want people to think I as look over these guys’ shoulders. I was pretty inactive in practice other than calling the periods or saying something like, ‘I don’t like the spacing in this formation.’ I really didn’t get involved with the coaching aspect but I’m back this week. I’m excited about this week and I’m ready to go.”

If Hahnville (1-3 overall, 0-1 in District 7-5A) is to get back on track with a win over Terrebonne (4-0 overall, 0-0 in district), it might not be as simple as 1,2,3.

Those numerals represent the numbers worn by the three Terrebonne Parish-based Tigers’ top offensive players.

No. 1 is playmaker 5-foot-10, 185-pound Jakhi Douglas, a dual-threat quarterback.

“He’s another ‘Pooka’ kind of kid,” said Saltaformaggio, referring to former Hahnville star Anthony Williams. “You will have them in this district. The big thing with him is we can’t let him get in gaps. We can’t let him get in big spaces because we don’t have a whole lot of guys that can run him down. He’s a physical kid. He may not be the tallest kid in the world but he’s very put together.”

No. 2 is 5-foot-9, 170-pound Keshawn James. 

“The problem with Keshawn James is where do you have to defend him?” Saltaformaggio said. “Do you defend him as a quarterback? Do you defend him as a running back? Do you defend him as a slot receiver? Do you defend him as an x or z (receiver)?

“It’s not like you can circle a spot on the field where you know he will be and defend that position. He’s all over the place.”

No. 3 is 6-foot, 205-pound running back Chaz Ward.

“He’s a big kid. He’s a big, big running back. You’ve got to match force with force there,” said Saltaformaggio.

Terrebonne features a spread offense.

“They really want to isolate their athletes on your skilled position guys. I think what we saw with Destrehan is similar to what we will see out of them. We will get a two-back counter game, we’re going to get some exchange routes vertically down the field. They will put a tight end in the game and they will run a little power at you,” Saltaformaggio explained.

While the Hahnville coach cited similarities between the Terrebonne and Destrehan offenses, he also seems familiar traits between Terrebonne and his own Tigers on defense.

“Defensively, we’re kind of mirror images of each other,” Saltaformaggio said. “They’re a 3-3 Stack team and they’re a 3-3 Stack team. They are big up front and we’re big up front.

“Where they are a little bit better than we are is at linebacker. Their linebackers play a little more gap-sound than we are. They are a little more aggressive at the point of attack than we are. I think we are kind of a push in the secondary. Their kicking game is similar to ours.”

Extending the game as long as possible, Saltaformaggo said, might be the best recipe to give his team a chance to come out with a win.

“I’m hoping it’s a fourth-quarter game and we have a chance to win it,” he said. “It’s not like it’s been where we had to chase points early in the game. Last week when we took the lead against Destrehan in the third quarter, that was the first time in 11 quarters that we had been ahead in a football game.”

With all that has transpired with Hahnville this season, expectations are different from earlier in the year for a team that had been to the state championship game the previous season.

“Friday night, we may not be the better team but if we’re better on Friday than we were on Monday, we’re doing something right. If we’re better on November 3 than we are on September 24, we’re doing something right. That doesn’t mean we’re going to be 7-3 or 6-4. We could be 1-9 but if we’re better, we’re moving forward,” 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.