Hahnville’s ‘Baby Bengals’ begin spring retooling process

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 30, 2008


Sports Editor

Hahnville was denied its chance at a little redemption this spring, when its game with Rummel was cancelled because of rain – the Raiders eliminated the Tigers in the second round of the class 5A playoffs last season.

But this spring was not a total loss for HHS Coach Lou Valdin and his team.

“Overall, it was very productive,” said Valdin. “We were much more physical than we’ve been in the past.”

A more physical Tigers team can’t be music to the ears of its upcoming opponents. For Hahnville to be more physical would say a lot, considering the success of last year’s team.

The Tigers’ rugged defense held its first four opponents to a combined six points, including three shutouts. Once in district, it held Destrehan to seven points for three and a half quarters before falling in overtime to the eventual state champions.

But many of the team’s top players from a year ago have moved on. All-State defensive tackle Wendell Boyd will be back, though, to anchor the team’s defensive line, it’s strength a season ago. He will be counted on heavily to help offset the loss of four top senior defensive lineman, including end Nathan Lewis.

Another being counted on top step up is defensive end Da Mon Scott, who will be a junior, and who played safety a year ago.

“We’re thinking that down the road, he can be a dominant player for us,” said Valdin.

Linebacker Cameron Elmer started for the Tigers a season ago before an injury sidelined him. He’s been sidelined this spring, but Valdin expects him to be ready to go and a key factor by the season’s beginning.

“He’ll be 100% by then,” he said.

He’ll be perhaps joined by two other young linebackers, Ben Taylor, and Darzille Washington. Each have opened eyes this spring.

Offensively, Jai Steib will give Hahnville an experienced presence at running back, after playing well in his first action in the backfield last season.

“We’ve got more depth there than we have in the past,” said Valdin.

But the passing game will have to be rebuilt. Gone are the Tigers’ dynamic receiving duo of LaRon Byrd and Ivory Washington, as well as quarterback B.J. Young, who set a school record for touchdown passes last year.

Guiseppe Crovetto, a senior, and Brian Ensmiger, a sophomore, will battle it out to see who will take the quarterbacking mantle this year.

So far, the contest has been even, says Valdin.

“If it stays that way, we don’t have an issue with rotating them. We can do that,” he said.

Once again, District 6-5A looks to be one of the toughest slates in the state, especially locally, with Destrehan coming off of a championship season, and East St. John looking to be improved.

Valdin knows it will be tough, and his team’s learning curve this spring, summer, and early in the 2008 season could determine how far it goes.

“We’ve got a lot of talent, but not a lot of size,” he says. “We’ve got a lot of speed, but we’re just young. We’re gonna be the baby bengals.”