It’s the time of year where coaches start to pull out one of those fill-in-the-blank quotes such as: “blank” is the best “blank” team in the state.
You can fill in any team and any record you like.
Hahnville’s Nick Saltaformaggio used a bit of a variation to the cliché earlier in the week.
“Thibodaux is way better than their record,” Saltaformaggio said.
For the record, Thibodaux is 1-5 overall and 1-1 in District 7-5A play.
Saltaformaggio went a bit further.
“They have good-looking players and they will be prepared and well-coached. We have to put Pearl River behind us. It was a good win and now we are back in district and we have to keep our eye on the prize, which is the state playoffs. We also have an opportunity to get another district win and get us closer to a district championship,” the Hahnville coach said.
Thibodaux is coming off a 48-0 blanking at the hands of Thibodaux. Hahnville, meanwhile, enters the Friday’s road game 4-2 overall and 2-0 in district. Hahnville is coming off a 49-7 drubbing of Pearl River in which the team was able to mostly rest key players such as star runner Anthony “Pooka” Williams.
“I think we played everybody we brought. We needed it. Anthony only played about three series of football, which was our plan going in,” Saltaformaggio said.
The Lafourche Parish-based Tigers play two quarterbacks – including Damarcus Mitchell, who also plays middle linebacker.
“He’s an athlete. He throws the ball well. His big plus as a player is his size and he has excellent speed for his size,” said Saltaformaggio.
When not playing receiver, Tyren Young will move to quarterback and Mitchell to receiver.
“Their two-headed monster at quarterback really concerns me because Young can really spin it. He’s good on his feet and our one problem we’ve had in games we didn’t win this year was quarterback play. Quarterbacks that can keep plays alive with their feet, run and get in space and make us have to tackle them at the second level have been very effective against us,” Saltaformaggio explained.
Young is part of a receiver corps that also includes Kevon Williams and Shemar Lawson.
Tanner Guillot and Saharold Holmes both get carries at running back.
“They are kind of the typical Thibodaux backs that I’ve seen since I’ve been here. They will run hard inside. They have a little bit burst about them,” said Saltaformaggio.
Thibodaux features a spread offense with a bit of a twist.
“They play it with two tight ends, which is unusual for us. We don’t see a lot of tight end football. Thibodaux will give us two tight ends. They are in the shotgun with one back but that is something for a 3-3 Stack team to have to deal with. You get one tight end you are OK. You get two tight ends and it makes you walk linebackers down and inverts down and they will give us some problems with formation,” Saltaformaggio pointed out.
Anchoring the defensive line for Thibodaux is 6-foot-2, 200-pound nose guard Darius Richard. Joining Richard on the defensive line are Melik Guidroz and Tyler Holmes.
“They are big up front and they have a way of handling the line of scrimmage. You have to move them. They are not going to get out of your way to let you run. You have to move them. You have to block them,” Saltaformaggio said.
Mitchell spot plays at middle linebacker with Derrick Sullivan. Other linebackers include Hunter Trosclair and Khalil Brisco.
Williams, Young and Lawson also play in the secondary, joining sophomore Joshua Holden.
The fact Thibodaux is playing so many players both ways for a Class 5A may explain, in part, why the team has faded down the stretch in games this season, according to Saltaformaggio.
“It’s 90 degrees and it’s (early October). It’s just hard to play guys both ways in Louisiana this late in the season and you are still dealing with high humidity and high temperatures. It just wears you down,” the Hahnville coach said.