Without a true gauge of his team in the preseason Hahnville football coach Nick Saltaformaggio was uncertain of what to expect when the Tigers opened the season Friday on the road against Denham Springs.
“We were worried about how we were going to play, how it was going to pan out against a good football team,” Saltaformaggio acknowledged.
Not to worry, though, Hahnville rose to the occasion in its first extensive action and handled Denham Springs 28-0 at Yellow Jacket Stadium with plenty of heroes to go around.
First and foremost was a dominant defense led by Houston commitment Adonis Friloux that limited Denham Springs to 91 yards in 49 plays, forced four turnovers and only allowed the Yellow Jackets to cross midfield twice during the game.
Running back Darryle Evans accounted for three touchdowns, including one in the first half for a 7-0 halftime lead, and defensive back Syre Lewis contributed a pair of pivotal plays on special teams and defense for the Tigers.
“We just had to figure out what we were all about,” Saltaformaggio said. “I felt like we were a good football team. I felt like we were a superb defensive football team. If we can do those things, we’re going to have a good year.”
The Tigers had a pass reception dropped for what would have likely been a touchdown and a 37-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter from Tate White sailed wide to the right.
Lewis counteracted the offense’s near-misses by blocking a 27-yard field goal attempt at the 11:38 mark of the second quarter. He followed that with an interception of Denham Springs quarterback Luke Lunsford, returning it 65 yards to the Yellow Jackets’ 15-yard line.
Two plays later, Evans scored on a 14-yard pass from quarterback Drew Naquin with 9:12 left before halftime.
Hahnville turned a potential punting situation into another scoring drive when on a third-and-8 screen pass, Evans broke out of a tackle for a 40-yard gain to Denham Spring’ 38-yard line.
Naquin, who finished 11 of 21 for 133 yards, threw his second touchdown of the game, spotting Trey Labranch on a wheel route out of the backfield, taking the pass 40 yards down the sideline to make it 14-0.
Hahnville’s defense, which sacked Lunsford five times (two by Friloux) for minus-24 yards, forced a fumble which Shamarr Moses recovered that led to Evans’ 6-yard scoring run for a 21-0 lead with 1:14 showing in the third quarter.
“We’re really good up front,” Saltaformaggio said. “Adonis is one of the best players in the state at his position and Logan Brimmer’s outstanding. We have very good speed in our secondary which allows us to play a couple of variations of coverages. They’re good practice kids and good locker room kids, good weight room kids. So that’s kind of why we’re in the situation we’re in.”
The Tigers, who outgained the Yellow Jackets 247-91, scored on three of their four possessions in the second half with Evans capping that stretch with a 28-yard TD run around the right side with 11:02 remaining in the game.
Evans rushed 15 times for 85 yards and caught two passes for 54 yards, while Jerry Spencer had four catches for 24 yards.
“To come out here against a team many people picked maybe second in their district; some believe they can play with Zachary, and to beat them like this says a lot for us,” Saltaformaggio said. “Maybe we’ll get a vote (in the LSWA statewide rankings). It’s like we fell off the map. We were in the state championship game two years ago. We can’t get a vote now, but that’s fine. It just makes them mad.”