The Hahnville Tigers have a lot on their mind going into Friday’s regular-season finale against visiting H.L. Bourgeois.
“More than any other time of the year, this is a trap game maybe even the game before or after Destrehan because you know you are in the playoffs,” Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio said. “Now you are worried about seeding, who you might play, where you are going to be. The kids read all of that and look at different websites and newspapers and see where we are seeded and all-of-a-sudden, they forget we have a game Friday night.
“Another thing for us is if we can win Friday night, in the four years I’ve been head coach we will be undefeated after Week 5. We haven’t lost a regular-season game after Week 5 since we’ve been together. That’s always nice to have that sort of streak in October playing into November.”
On top of all that, a win over H.L. Bourgeois would give the Tigers the outright District 7-5A title.
“All of those things go into this week, but our focus has to be on H.L. Bourgeois,” Saltaformaggio said.
Friday’s game certainly is a case of two teams going in opposite directions. Hahnville is 7-2 overall, including 5-0 in district, and is riding a six-game winning streak. By contrast, HLB is 1-8 overall, 0-5 in district play, and on a six-game losing streak.
“The big thing for them is they are not consistently doing things,” Saltaformaggio said of the Braves. “Last year, they were in the same offense in the first film we saw in the second and third film. Now, they are running three different offenses in three different films.
“I think when you are that kind of football team, you are trying to find something that will work for you.”
That brings with it a sense of uncertainty for the Tigers. For example, Bourgeois opened the year with Conner Verdin at quarterback. After Verdin was hurt, the Braves used Alek Domangue and Cullen Nyssen at the position. Verdin is back at quarterback for HLB.
“We have three different films and they had three different quarterbacks. I think they will settle in on Connor Verdin but you go into it, the guy that starts probably won’t be the guy that finishes. They move different guys around,” Saltaformaggio said.
The Hahnville coach said he expects just about anything from the Braves on Friday.
“I know Coach (Carey) Melvin’s background is in option football. I’m sure we will get a little dose of that along the line Friday night. The old adage is, ‘the more they do, the less you do,’” Saltaformaggio said.
When not playing quarterback, Domangue and Nyssen are receiving threats, as is D’keyvion Sanders.
“It’s just a bunch of different formations and some of them are unusual formations,” Saltaformaggio said of the HLB offense. “You get some unbalanced; it’s not really a true stack formation because they are not out wide but they will stack three backs behind the guard, tackle and tight end.
“They don’t stick to one thing very long. I think they are trying to find the one thing that works – hopefully, they don’t find it against us.”
The Braves are a little more straightforward on defense with their four-down look, according to Saltaformaggio.
“We’ve had a lot of success blocking that the last couple of weeks,” said Saltaformaggio. “The funny thing is we’ve seen so many defenses to try and stop our run game, I think we’ve blocked just about every one you can throw at us from a traditional 50 to a 3-4, to a 3-3 Stack to a 4-2-5 to a 4-3 – we’ve even seen some six-man fronts.”
The Hahnville coach said he has a good idea what to expect from the Braves on defense.
“Knowing what we do, they will give us an eight-man box to try and take Anthony (Williams) away like everybody does but we are getting really good production from other kids beside Anthony and Jha’Quan (Jackson),” said Saltaformaggio. “Michael Gray has given us some perimeter run game and Daryle Evans and Brandon Comardelle can make plays for us.
“Jha’Quan started the year as an athlete playing quarterback and now he’s a quarterback that’s an athlete. Now that we can throw the ball a little bit, people are backing off of us. When they back of us, we will give the ball to Anthony and Daryle and go get it.”