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Saltaformaggio hoping personnel changes proves some answers

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  • George Becnel
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  • September 13, 2018 - 12:58pm

File photosJha'quan Jackson (left) is back at wide receiver for Hahnville with Drew Naquin the new starter at quarterback for the Tigers when they face Brother Martin.

In the aftermath of Hahnville’s 26-0 loss to John Ehret last Friday, Tigers coach Nick Saltaformaggio is scratching his head searching for answers.

Not only did Ehret shut out Hahnville, the Patriots held the Tigers’ struggling offense to 165 total yards.

That’s a pattern that has been going on for weeks.

“If you go back to the 15-minute quarter against Northshore (in a scrimmage), the jamboree, the first game and last week, we’ve only scored three offensive touchdowns,” Saltaformaggio pointed out. “We have not taken the ball off of a kickoff and driven down the field and score a touchdown.

“This may be Week 3, but we are 10 weeks in now. We are 10 weeks into this football season when you count August and your scrimmages and your jamborees. We have to find something we can do.”

Along with Saltaformaggio suspended for the first four games and Andrew Robison ruled ineligible for the season, injuries are taking a toll on the Tigers.

“I think our kids are pressing. I know our kids are pressing,” Saltaformaggio said. “There hasn’t been a week yet that something hasn’t affected our locker room. We find out Friday that Darryle Evans, who’s our best running back, is having surgery on a meniscus tear, so he’s out. It’s just one thing after another after another.”

One of the “anothers” also includes losing a starting guard from an already young offensive line.

“We are going through a rough patch with injuries. We lost Brant Griffin for the week with a concussion and he’s a starting guard. Now we are going to start another sophomore in Griffen Mahl at guard. We will wind up playing with three sophomores on the offensive line against Brother Martin. We just have to be able to overcome what we are going through right now and continue to understand that it’s a long season. Nobody is winning a championship today,” Saltaformaggio said.

Hahnville’s offense has struggled in every facet of the game.

“We have 200 yards rushing in two games. We would have that by one back last year in a single game. As a team, we are averaging less than four yards a carry and less than 200 total yards rushing. We have 79 yards passing. We only have 279 yards of offense in two games. We’ve got to find something. There has got to be something out there we can do,” Saltaformaggo said.

One thing the Tigers are doing is performing personnel changes on offense.

Drew Naquin, a sophomore, is expected to start at quarterback for the Tigers when they travel to New Orleans to take on Brother Martin at 7 p.m. Friday at Tad Gormley Stadium.

“Jha’quan doesn’t want to play quarterback,” Saltaformaggio said. “Because he doesn’t want to play quarterback, he’s not giving us anything as a quarterback that you would think would make me want to keep him there, keep him there. He’s not making plays with his feet. He’s not making plays with his arm. He’s not really known for making plays with his arms, he’s known for making plays with his feet. He’s not doing that, either.

“We have to find a way to be more diverse offensively. I know what I am about running the ball, but we can’t run the ball. We are not capable of running the ball. If we are not going to throw the ball and we are not capable of running the ball, we will be punting the ball a lot. We have to throw the ball to the point where our pass number should be between 22 and 25 attempts in a game.”

Hahnville (1-1) takes on a Brother Martin team that is coming off a 48-20 loss to Warren Easton. The Crusaders (1-1) are a young team, particularly on offense. Only running back Chris Smith, along with receivers Brady Faust and Davonn Moore return from a year ago.

The new quarterbacks are senior Andrew Martin and sophomore Isiah Torregano.

“Torregano is more of the wildcat type. He will be their running guy. Martin is the guy that kind of manages their offense for them,” Saltaformaggio said.

Although the players change, Brother Martin’s offensive system does not.

“You watch them, it doesn’t matter who their personnel is, they are going to do the same thing they have done under Mark Bonis for forever. They will give you multiple tight ends. They are going to run outside zone and run inside zone. They will run counter and run the play-actions off of it. They will run their (bootlegs) off of it. They will get their quarterback on the edge for a boot pass and if it’s there, he will turn it up and get yards off of it,” Saltaformaggo said.

The Crusaders play a 50 and 3-4 on defense.

“They have some physical guys up front. They graduated four really, really good linebackers, but again, they just plug the other guys in. Until we block somebody, it doesn’t matter,” Saltaformaggio said.

Defensive back Joshua Payne-Morgan has caught the eye of the Hahnville coach.

“Joshua Payne-Morgan is a pretty special athlete for them,” Saltaformaggio said. “He turns around and plays some offense for them in short-yardage situations.”

While the opponent may be formidable, getting a chance to get away and play in Tad Gormley Stadium could be a good thing for the Tigers, according to Saltaformaggio.

“We have to find a way to continue to be resilient and find a way to win this game. This is a huge game and we have to find a way not to think ahead. We can’t think about what’s coming next week (rival Destrehan). We have to think about Brother Martin this week. We go on the road. It’s kind of fun that we are going to get to play in Tad Gormley (Stadium). Our kids rarely play in Tad Gormley, which is a storied stadium. It will be fun for those guys to go play in that environment. I think that’s what we have to point to,” 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.