New HHS coach surrounds himself with familiar faces
3 coaches from state champ East Jeff join Saltaformaggio
Hahnville has hired a number of new football coaches as the team is in transition.
To do that, Saltaformaggio has brought along three coaches that helped him lead East Jefferson to the 4A state championship last season. He has also made some significant staff changes.
Gone are former Hahnville offensive line coach John Lambert and former defensive coordinator David Guillot. Lambert was a finalist for the Hahnville head coaching job and spent 15 years with the Tigers. Guillot had been with the program for eight years. In their place Saltaformaggio has brought with him a few key pieces from his coaching staff at East Jefferson High School. Former East Jeff offensive coordinator Frank Allelo is the new HHS offensive coordinator. Mark Kleinpeter takes over the offensive line and Chris Martin will coach the team’s running backs.
The addition of new coaches should go a long way toward installing new offensive and defensive schemes while backing up the mentality Saltaformaggio preaches.
“The nucleus of our offense is filled by guys who coached with me at East Jeff, which is huge,” he said.
Despite going 15-0 last year, winning the state championship and being named National High School Coach of the Year, Saltaformaggio said he knows he must still put in a lot of effort to be successful at Hahnville.
“I still don’t see myself as a great football coach. I caution people here that I am not a savior in any respect. I work hard, I love my job, I love those kids in the locker room. I want to make them men first, but it is going to be hard work,” he said.
Saltaformaggio follows in the footsteps of former Hahnville head coach Lou Valdin, who led the Tigers to a state championship and 14 straight playoff appearances. However, in Valdin’s final two seasons the Tigers won just 11 games. Saltaformaggio said it is up to him to pick up the pieces from two back-to-back middling seasons.
“That goes back to figuring out what went wrong. When you come into a place that has seven guys who are committed [to colleges], I have to figure out what went wrong. I shouldn’t be here, but God I am glad I am. If we can figure that out we are going to be a good football team,” he said.
Saltaformaggio’s philosophy relies on focusing on his players and changing the attitude with which they approach the game and life in general.
“Everything we do, every action we undertake is going to be the action of a champion – in the classroom, in our social lives and with our parents,” he said. “That is what we have to instill here. Let’s get rid of the ‘I’ mentality, which I call the ESPN mentality. Let’s get rid of the ESPN mentality and let’s get a Hahnville mentality. My battle cry is ‘this is Hahnville!’”
That attitude has led to a change in how the team’s practices are run.
“Our practice tempo is a whole lot different than what they are used to. I don’t like guys standing around. Every coach has an assignment so you don’t have kids standing around and we are moving constantly. I am always screaming ‘let’s go’ so our practice tempo is way more intense than what they’ve had,” he said.
Saltaformaggio said it may take some time for his players to get the hang of how he runs things, but when they do their opponents should be on notice.
“It is going to take us a lot of time, but by the end of the year we are going to be a playoff team to be reckoned with,” he said.
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