Keep Anthony “Pooka” Williams out of the end zone. Create turnovers. Play ball control offense.
It's the three basic ingredients in beating Hahnville. Brother Martin checked off all three boxes on the way to a 21-6 win over the Tigers Friday night in Boutte, moving both teams to 1-2 on the season.
“I told our kids, (Brother Martin) is a storied program. I don't think our kids understood that,” said Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio. “I graduated high school in 1977, I've been a high school coach for 36 years, I don't ever remember Brother Martin being 0-3. We've got a long way to go and I knew these three games would be rough, we're 0-2 in them and we got Destrehan (next) and the last I heard they were beating Ehret, so they got to be pretty good.”
As for the ball control offense, it was a one-two punch of sophomore Chris Smith and senior two-way player Matthew Alfonso running behind a highly efficient Crusaders offensive line that did the damage. Alfonso scored all three Brother Martin touchdowns while Smith rushed for 115 yards on 22 carries.
“I don't want to take anything away from Matthew, he did a great job offensively and defensively but Chris Smith was the workhorse tonight,” said Brother Martin coach Mark Bonis. “When we get down (in goal line situations) he's a little light right now, he's a pup he's only a sophomore. (Smith) is going to be a great back for us. Happy for Matthew, great job by our offensive line, great job by Chris Smith tonight and just happy for a great win for our program.”
Trailing only 7-0 at halftime, Williams gave Hahnville a spark taking the second-half opening kick 68 yards. But the overriding theme of the night kicked in from there as the Brother Martin defense tightened and the Tigers settled for a 33-yard Thomas Rasco field goal cutting the Brother Martin lead to 7-3. The kickoff return marked the highlight of the night for Williams who finished with 71 yards rushing on 14 carries and 2 receptions for 2 yards.
The Brother Martin defensive effort on one of the state's top playmakers was extra sweet for Crusaders defensive coordinator Lance Ledet who served in the same capacity for Hahnville's rival Destrehan from 2000-2003 and again from 2012-2015.
“Well it's always nice to come back to the River Parishes, St. Charles public schools are first-class schools,” said Ledet. “To come back here to this atmosphere at Hahnville the success these kids had on the field and the energy they played with tonight, I'm just happy for the kids and proud for the Brother Martin community.
“The thing about Mr. Pooka, you got to keep him running east and west. If he goes north and south on you, you're in for a long night. The kids did a phenomenal job of keeping him running east and west and that showed on the scoreboard.”
The Crusaders responded to the Hahnville field goal with another long drive culminating with Alfonso scoring from 11 yards out, his second rushing touchdown of the game giving Brother Martin a 14-3 lead with 1:18 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
A bizarre set of events ensued when it appeared that Brother Martin was flagged for a personnel foul after a hard hit on the ensuing sky kick. After a nearly eight minute delay which included officials meeting with each other then eventually with both head coaches, Brother Martin re-kicked. This time it was an onside kick which the Crusaders recovered.
Rasco added a 44-yard field goal, and Alfonso scored for a third time on a 4-yard touchdown run closing out the scoring in the fourth quarter.
“This Hahnville team is a real talented team, coach Salt and his staff do a great job, and obviously they have some talented players,” said Bonis. “Obviously happy for our guys tonight they came out, it wasn't pretty but we found a way to win. Proud of them, happy for them but we still have a long way to go. Getting better every week but we still have a long way to go but I'm really happy for our guys.”
Turnovers were a problem for Hahnville who threw only one more completion (4) than interceptions (3), prompting Saltaformaggio to say that Hahnville would “re-evaluate” the passing game.
Both teams begin district play next week with Brother Martin hosting 5A No.1 ranked John Curtis at Tad Gormley Stadium, and Hahnville traveling across the river for a showdown with parish rival Destrehan.