Undefeated Tigers thrive on old school tactics

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, October 9, 2019

BOUTTE – Hahnville head football coach Nick Saltaformaggio is feeling a bit like the old comedian Rodney Dangerfield these days. He’s wondering just what his team has to do to get a little respect around here.

At the halfway point of the season, the Tigers are one of only nine Class 5A teams that are still undefeated, but they have yet to break into the Top 10 of the Class 5A polls. They didn’t even get any votes until last week, following a 34-27 comeback win against Terrebonne, when they received six. After last week’s 21-0 victory over East St. John, they picked up two more to move up a few spots. But Saltaformaggio still believes his team is being overlooked by a lot of people.

“We’re 5-0 and we’ll probably be the lowest ranked team in the state again this week,” Saltaformaggio said following Friday night’s victory over East St. John. “But I think we have a really good football team.”

There is no secret formula to the Tigers’ success, however. Saltaformmagio is using the same old school tactics he used to win a state championship at East Jefferson in 2013 – a powerful running game and a solid defense.

Hahnville ran over East St. John Friday night – literally – as running back Darryle Evans rushed for 191 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries, accounting for all but 54 yards of the team’s total offense. Only three other players had carries, including Trey Labranche, who had eight carries for 47 yards. Quarterback Drew Naquin completed only four passes for 15 yards.

Does that make the Tigers’ offense a one-trick pony?  Saltaformaggio acknowledged that, for now, they are.

“We’ve just got to be right now,” he said. “I learned a long time ago from (coach) Henry Rando – in big ball games, best play, best player.”

Luckily, the Tigers have the defense to go with it. Hahnville has posted two shutouts against very athletic East St. John and Denham Springs. East St. John was held to 71 yards rushing and 78 yards passing. The defense also nabbed three interceptions, two by Brandon Carmadelle, and a fumble.

Led by defensive end Adonis Friloux, the Tigers defense sacked East St. John quarterback Sean Shelby five times. Friloux had three of those.

“You play defense like that, you’re going to have a lot of chances to win ball games,” Saltaformaggio said.

But, even Coach Salt is a little surprised by his team’s fast start.

“I was hoping we’d get through the front end 3-2,” he said. “I knew we’d be good. I don’t think anybody else in the state of Louisiana thought we’d be good, but we knew we’d be good. And our kids knew they’d be good.”