When Hahnville got off to an uncharacteristic 1-3 start, a possible district championship might have seemed very far away to some.
From that point on, the Tigers lost only once more. When Hahnville defeated rival Destrehan 34-3 Friday in Boutte, the Tigers were able to claim a share of the District 8-5A title and their accustomed spot in the playoffs.
“These kids are never going to quit. We have a lot of tradition at Hahnville. They are never going to quit,” Hahnville coach Lou Valdin said. “They knew we were 1-3 and they knew we were getting better every week and they knew we had a chance to become a pretty good football team. Once we got into district, we kind of hit our stride.”
Hahnville’s only district loss was to East St. John. Both teams finished the season 4-1 in league play. The Tigers’ lone district loss was a 25-20 loss to ESJ.
Destrehan, meanwhile, finished with a losing record for the second-straight season. After starting off 2-8 the Wildcats lost their final eight games and ended up winless in district play.
“I’m disappointed for my seniors on our football team and wish Hahnville luck,” Destrehan coach Chris Stroud said.
Hahnville drove for a field goal on the opening possession of the game and took advantage of a fumble, partially-blocked punt and good field position to score the first four times it had the ball.
“High school football, field position and turnovers win games and that’s what happened. We got the field position and turnovers deal and that enabled us to get a comfortable lead on Destrehan,” Valdin said.
Meanwhile, Destrehan’s offense was never able to get on track. The Wildcats did not pick up a first down in the opening quarter and only had three in the first half to go along with 65 yards of total offense.
“When they got inside the 5-yard line, we held them to a field goal but we weren’t ready to play football. We stopped them a few touchdown. We had an early fumble and had bad field position that put our defense in a bind and just didn’t have a chance to get started on offense,” Stroud said.
Struggling all season to produce much offense, Destrehan finished with 122 total yards, including only 24 rushing.
“We wanted to shut down the running game,” Valdin said. “We wanted to hit the quarterback and try to take the ball away and I think we did that.”
Leading 27-3 at halftime, the Tigers’ only score in the second half came on a 3-yard run by Travis Faucheaux in the fourth quarter.
Hahnville played keep-away from Destrehan in the second half with long, time-consuming drives. Faucheaux’s touchdown run capped a drive that used up 8:04 on the clock.
“We said we would try to burn up a bunch of the clock and we did,” Valdin said. “We got them to jump a couple of times. Being able to run and throw the football and Easton (Melancon) did a great job and threw the ball well tonight.”
Melancon finished 8 of 10 passing for 111 yards and two touchdowns. Faucheaux topped all rushers with 101 yards on 15 carries. Ernest Thompson rushed for 61 yard on 12 carries before leaving the game with 3:15 remaining in the third quarter with a knee injury.
“I hope our tailback is OK. If not, we will go with who we got,” Valdin said.
The Tigers’ initial score was the only drive in which Hahnville had to drive the length of the field. HHS took the opening kickoff from its own 20 down to the Destrehan 5-yard line before settling on a 22-yard Craig Ford field goal.
Kevin Smith fumbled one play into Destrehan’s next possession, with Jamon Lathers recovering for Hahnville at the Wildcats’ 21-yard line. HHS made it 10-0 one play later on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Melancon to Ronnie Greene. Greene made the catch in the left corner of the end zone reaching for the ball over Destrehan defender Spencer Bentley.
A partially blocked punt on Destrehan’s next possession gave the ball right back to Hahnville at the Wildcats’ 33. Melancon capped a six-play drive on a 1-yard quarterback sneak to give the Tigers a 17-0 lead with 3:31 still remaining in the first quarter.
Hahnville increased its advantage to 24-0 less than a minute into the second quarter on a 3-yard pass from Melancon to Jaylon Bryant to cap a 52-yard drive.
Destrehan’s lone score of the first half was set up by a Hahnville turnover. A fumble by Michael Ford gave the Wildcats their best field position of the game at the Hahnville 22.
Hahnville’s defense held, forcing Destrehan to settle on a 33-yard Daniel Cimino field goal to make the score 24-3.
The Tigers got the three points back with seven seconds remaining in the first half on a 39-yard Ford field goal.
Hahnville’s defense held the Wildcats to 65 yards total offense in the first half. Destrehan only managed 18 yards rushing on 15 carries. Destrehan quarterback Donovan Isom was 7 of 9 passing, including completing his first seven attempts but for only 47 yards. Isom finished 12 of 18 passing for 98 yards.
The Tigers, meanwhile, amassed 207 yards in the first half, including 128 rushing and 79 passing. Hahnville accumulated 11 first downs to only three for Destrehan.