First-year Hahnville High School coach Nick Saltformaggio has a simple vision for his program.
Saltaformaggio was a reminded of that vision this week, every time he studied film of Friday night’s opponent.
“What Rummel is now is what Hahnville was six or seven years ago,” Saltaformaggio said. “That’s what I want us to be: a Class 5A football powerhouse. That’s how we want to look. We want to be physical, with multiple parts, a great program and great coaching. That’s what we are trying to build.”
Saltaformaggio will get to see just how much work has to be done, if any, Friday night when his Tigers host the Raiders in a clash of two of the area’s top teams.
Rummel won last year’s slugfest 7-5.
Don’t expect the scoreboard operator to get much work this season either in a game that pits two physical, run-heavy offenses.
“I told our kids on Monday that this is the kind of football game I love coaching and you should love playing in,” Saltaformaggio said. “This won’t be any of that flag football 7-on-7 stuff. It’s going to be two football teams who understand that football games are won through physical toughness and being dominant at the line of scrimmage.”
Both teams enter Friday night’s games coming off impressive season-opening wins.
Rummel, ranked No. 2 in The New Orleans Advocate Large School Super 10, dismantled then-No. 4 ranked East St. John 39-0.
Hahnville, currently ranked No. 5, beat Salmen 35-14.
The Raiders, coming off two straight state championships, are riding a seven-game winning streak dating to last season when they won the Division I title.
Saltaformaggio has a winning streak of his own.
He has won 16 straight games, including a 15-0 mark last season when he led East Jefferson to the Class 4A state title before leaving for Hahnville.
But on the flip side, he is 0-5 against Rummel. (He went 0-2 during his playing days at Holy Cross in the 70s, then 0-3 as an assistant at Holy Cross in the 80s).
He hasn’t faced Rummel since. His Chalmette team was scheduled to play Rummel in 2005, but that game was canceled because of Hurricane Katrina.
“I’m hoping I can end my 0-5 streak against them,” he said.
Rummel, led by running backs Maurice Bailey and Devin Hutton, rushed for 206 yards in its season opener. Chase Fourcade completed all five of his pass attempts for 83 yards.
Hahnvlle counters with Saltaformaggio’s triple option.
“They run a disciplined offense and are very physical up front,” Rummel coach Jay Roth said. “We will have to play responsibility football. If you miss a responsibility, they are going to put points on the board so we have to be very disciplined this week. On defense, it’s their energy. They run to the football just nonstop.”
Hahnville’s offense is spearheaded by its massive front line of Drew Melancon, Adrian Young, Landon Kinler, Drew Jones and Carmichael Critton.
“I know that there are a lot of great football teams in Louisiana, but I will take our offensive line over anybody else’s line,” Saltaformaggio said. “Our offensive line and defensive lines are playing great football. We have some issues at other spots, but as long as they play well, we have a shot to win.”
Saltaformaggio said he knows Rummel will be physical in the trenches as well. But the Raiders are loaded in the skill positions as well.
“They have guys all over the place,” Saltaformaggio said. “How many people can lose the talent they loss and still be that good. They just replace them with equal parts. We’re playing a program that Jay Roth has built into a dynasty.
“It’s not one individual that scares me. It’s that when you play Rummel, you are playing a program.”
Although Saltaformaggio is striving to get his team where Rummel is, he isn’t making Friday’s litmus test a make or break game.
“We don’t have to be great Friday night,” he said. “We are not going to win or lose a state championship Friday night. But if we can continue to progress in the offensive line and defensive line, down the road we are going to be tough to handle down.”