Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio made two quick points immediately after the Tigers’ game against Southern Lab in the Ed Reed River Parish Jamboree on Friday night in Destrehan.
“That’s two weeks in a row we didn’t play well the second half,” said the first-year Hahnville coach, referring to the jamboree and the Tigers’ scrimmage a week earlier against Northshore.
Then came Saltaformaggio’s other point.
“The good thing is we played real well in the first half,” said Saltaformaggio after the Tigers built a 35-6 halftime lead on its way to a 42-12 victory over Southern Lab.
In the second game of the jamboree, Destrehan topped Lutcher 21-13.
Hahnville ran the option with great precision in the first half, especially on the Tigers’ first two possessions of the contest.
The Tigers averaged 8 yards a carry on their first five rushes of the game before Devonte’ Cravin ran left on an option pitch for a 39-yard touchdown.
Taking over at the Southern Lab 41-yard line following a punt, the Tigers ran the ball on six of seven plays in the drive, with quarterback Mike Neal scoring on a 2-yard option keeper for a quick 14-0 lead.
“It was very smooth,” Neal said of running the option. “We had a great week of practice. We executed and we came out here ready to play.”
A smart quarterback also knows to praise his offensive linemen.
“First thing I have to say is I couldn’t do it without my o-line. Without them, this offense is nothing. People don’t give them credit, but without them, there is no offense,” said Neal.
Before the first half was over, the Tigers added a 14-yard touchdown run by Brady Aucoin and touchdown passes from Neal to Brandon Singleton of 15 yards and 22 yards to Ricky Preston. Singleton, a Georgia Tech verbal commitment, leaped to haul in a pass in the end zone on a ball thrown behind him for his touchdown.
“You have to commit to defend the run. If you don’t defend the run, you will have problems. We’ll never pass but we’ll score a lot. We look for them to roll that eighth guy in box and when they do, we are in good shape,” Saltaformaggio said of the effectiveness of the limited passing game in the option offense.
Hahnville’s offense held the Kittens to one first down in the first half before Southern Lab scored its only points of the opening period on an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Joseph McWilliams on the final play of the opening period to make the score 35-6 at the break.
Southern Lab marched 62 yards for a touchdown at the 4:17 mark of the second half on a 12-yard pass from quarterback Bladrick Veal to Demonte Lang to make the score 35-12.
Sluggish coming out of the locker room after halftime, the Tigers managed one final score in the closing seconds of the game when a 43-yard run by Preston eventually set up a 10-yard quarterback keeper by Neal.
“It was a good call and a good read by Mike. We just ran it to perfection,” Preston said of his 43-yard gain.
Preston rushed for 122 yards in the game. Except for the big 43-yard effort late in the game, all of the A-back’s yards came in the first half.
For the most part, Saltaformaggio said he was pleased with his team’s effort, but harped back to his point about how his team came out for the second half.
“We are lazy coming out. When I say lazy, I’m not talking about physically lazy. We are mentally lazy. We just have to continue to prepare that it’s 48 minutes and we have to play hard for 48 minutes,” the Hahnville coach said.