No. 5 Griffins’ next test at Hahnville

Peter Silas Pasqua
Dutchtown’s Leonard Wyatt grabs East St. John’s Todd Muse last week as Richard Buckland and Grant Medine close in. The Griffins travel to Hahnville Friday night.

GEISMAR - No. 5 Dutchtown does not get a break after a big win over East St. John last week, traveling for the first time in a month to District 5-5A foe Hahnville Friday night in Boutte.

“Hahnville has a good football team and they always have a good football team,” Dutchtown head coach Benny Saia said. “They are very talented across the board. We do have to get on the bus and drive. That is something that will be a change of the routine that we have been in. Hopefully we are mature enough to handle it.”

Dutchtown (6-0, 2-0) strays from the confines of Griffin Field for the first time since their season opener and  a five-game home stand. The Griffins have run off six straight victories in that time span and are tied for the district lead with No. 2 Destrehan. Hahnville (4-2, 1-1) defeated East Ascension 31-8 last week and the Tigers only losses came to Destrehan and No. 1 South Plaquemines of Class 1A.

Saia said the Griffins’ success thus far this season has not come overnight after a quarterfinal appearance a year ago in the state playoffs..

“It has been a building thing,” Saia said. “Last year, we got close and I think the guys realized that we weren’t that far away and they have worked hard and I really think this team likes each other and they try to play the way they are coached. It has been fun.”

In the Griffins’ 38-25 victory over East St. John, sophomore Effrem Reed led all rushers with 137 yards on eight carries to go with one touchdown. Senior Eddie Lacy added 121 yards on 18 attempts with two touchdowns and has amassed 423 yards on 54 attempts scoring six times this season, while fellow senior Kelvin York leads the team in rushing with 704 yards on 99 attempts and four touchdowns.

“We have been a team that has done it on the ground basically the whole time the school has been open,” Saia said. “We do have some quality backs and the offensive line has really been playing well. We have been throwing it enough to keep people honest. We are feeling good right now. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”

Senior quarterback Wesley Perkins has passed for 393 yards on 26 for 56 passes, slinging to a slew of pass catchers including Reed, Lacy, York, Lyndon Holmes, Cody Vicknair, Greg Provo and Colby Little.

Hahnville, under the direction of Lou Valdin, have replaced its offensive arsenal after graduating quarterback B.J. Young, running back Greg Julien and wide receiver LaRon Bryd from a year ago.

Guiseppe Crovetto has passed for 312 yards completing 24 of 73 passes for two touchdowns and Brian Ensminger has thrown for 115 yards completing 8 of 19 throws. The top target has been James Butler with 17 catches for 276 yards. Jai Steib leads the team in rushing with 441 yards on 105 carries to go with nine touchdowns including a 111-yard and three-touchdown performance against East Ascension last week.

“They are more of a running team this year,” Saia said. “They have two really good backs but they can throw it. They don’t have LaRon Byrd but they have some explosive kids on offense.”

Dutchtown’s defense forced three East St. John turnovers in the first half last week and despite giving up 310 yards of total offense including 217 yards on the ground, bowed against a potent Wildcat offense on fourth down late in the fourth quarter when the game was still in doubt. Seniors Randy Thackery and Richard Buckland each had six tackles and one for a loss to the Griffins’ charge. Eric Reid added six, while Leonard Wyatt had five and Grant Medine, John Williams, Justin Rivere and Kendryck Johnson each had three.

“We have a little tradition here of playing good defense,” Saia said. “We lost eight guys and eight more guys stepped in and carried on the tradition. I think that is a credit to the defensive coaches and the way they coach those guys and they have responded.”

Hahnville’s defense has surrendered 14.5 points per game this season and are led by top prospects in cornerbacks Danzell Lockett and Antoine Evans.

“We are all in this together,” Saia said. “The coaches, the players and the trainers and we are all playing for one goal and that is to win. That is what you work for as a coach. If they don’t want it, then you are beating your head against the wall. Right now, everyone has jumped on board and done everything they can to make us successful. We can’t lose sight of how we got here. I still don’t think it is because we are overly more talented than anybody that we play. I think it is because of the way we play and the way our kids feel about each other. There is not any jealously. Our guys are concerned about the team and winning and when you have that you are going to be successful more times than not.”

Dutchtown hosts parish rival St. Amant at Griffin Field next week.