Playing their first game without suspended head coach Nick Saltaformaggio and quarterback Andrew Robison, Hahnville want back to a formula that helped the Tigers reach the Class 5A state championship a year ago.
The Tigers (1-0) returned to their ground game as Hahnville amassed 257 yards rushing in a 45-0 thrashing of West Jefferson on Friday night in the 2018 season opener.
Jha’quan Jackson, now back at quarterback, rushed for 92 yards, while Brandon Comardelle had 72 yards. Darryle Evans 45 and Jace Myers 48. Comardelle and Myers each rushed for two touchdowns while Evans added another.
“People ask how you replace ‘Pooka’ (Anthony Williams). You do it with four or five other guys. We don’t have one guy that can do what ‘Pooka’ did, we have four or five guys who are pretty good,” said Mike Silva, who is serving as interim head coach of the Tigers for the first four weeks of the season.
The victory came after a week of turmoil when Hahnville was sanctioned by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.
“If nothing else, all the turmoil last week brought some clarity to things we were doing here,” Silva said. “We were trying to wonder if somebody was eligible and not know if he was eligible and try to get everybody an equal amount of reps and all it did was really clear things up for the time being. We had a semblance of order. We just have to work at getting better with that semblance of order.”
The offense put up a lot of points on the board, but it really was the defense that shined for the Tigers.
“Tonight’s game was all about defense. We scored on our first time but after that the defense kept giving us short fields and we kept converting those turnovers into points,” Silva said.
The Hahnville defense held West Jefferson (0-1) to minus-29 yards rushing and 159 passing while intercepting three passes.
“West Jeff, for the most part, really doesn’t try to run the football. They run the ball just to keep you honest and keep you from pinning your ears back,” Silva said. “As long as our kids keep their gap integrity and know where they are filling in, with our front three, they are not going to give you a whole lot. They will give you more push than you are giving them, and all our linebackers have to do is fill gaps and make tackles. So, they did a good job of that tonight.”
Hahnville’s defense put constant pressure on Buccaneers quarterback Wallace Lucas, limiting him to 15 of 32 passing.
“Everybody talks about throwing the ball and having a kid who can throw it, but it all comes down to protection, really. If you can’t protect your quarterback, you really can’t do a whole lot,” said Silva. “Our front sets the tone for our people in the back to make plays on the ball. There were times that poor quarterback was running for his life just because of the pressure the front was putting on him.”
Meanwhile, Jackson was back directing the Hahnville offense.
“When the season came around and all of the other people we had working at quarterback, we were just trying to see if we could leave ‘Quan’ at receiver,” Silva said. When it all comes down to it, you don’t have Robison and you have another young guy (Drew Naquin) who’s not quite ready to play yet, but we think the world of him – ‘Quan’ quarterbacked 17 games last year and got us to the state championship game. It’s not like you are settling on someone playing quarterback. He’s a good player and a good athlete. If you give him an inch, he is going to pop a run here or there. People don’t realize he hasn’t played quarterback since December. He spent all summer at wide receiver.”
A 2-yard touchdown run by Evans and a 4-yard score by Comardelle gave Hahnville a 14-0 lead after one quarter. Alijah Hamilton’s 10-yard interception return for a touchdown gave the Tigers a 21-0 halftime lead.
After Comardelle scored on a 2-yard run in the third quarter, Hahnville scored three times in the final period on a 32-yard field goal by Ethan Chacon and touchdown runs of 10 and 3 yards by Myers.
The outcome gave Silva his first win as interim coach.
“I just hold it down for Nick on Friday nights,” Silva said. “This was his team, this was Hahnville High’s team and as much as I’ve done in my 34 years, I’ve always just done what the powers that be ask me to do, and if nothing else, this is something I will remember for a long time. This is about the kids. This is about the team, and this is about Hahnville High School.”