HHS students, faculty mourn tragic loss of athlete, cadet
HHS ROTC members hold up a banner honoring Hahnville sophomore Matt Scaruffi, who passed away last Thursday.
Scaruffi was a backup linebacker for the Tigers and also served as a cadet in the school’s ROTC program. Hahnville principal Ken Oertling said that because Scaruffi was so involved in the school, his death shocked many.
“When we called 300 students into the auditorium to give them the news, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” Oertling said. “That shows what kind of influence Matt had on everyone here.”
Oertling called Scaruffi a “model student” who would answer every question asked of him with “yes sir” or “no sir.”
“He was very polite, respectful and kind,” he said. “He was just a really good kid and the students and teachers loved him.”
Hahnville head football coach Lou Valdin said he and the rest of his coaches and players were stunned when they heard the news of Scaruffi’s death.
“He loved football so much…he loved practice and he always gave 100 percent,” he said. “He was the first guy up in drills and he had more heart than anyone on the team.
“I told the team that if we play every game like Matt practiced, we could beat anybody.”
Scaruffi, who passed away on Veteran’s Day, was honored before Hahnville’s playoff game against West Jefferson last Friday.
Fellow cadets held up a banner with Scaruffi’s name and picture, while other students gathered on the field to join in a prayer and moment of silence. When the football team ran onto the field, senior defensive lineman Jontrell Lockett carried Scaruffi’s jersey.
When Lockett was finished parading the No. 52 jersey around the field, he placed it near the Tigers’ logo. The rest of the players surrounded the jersey and performed their pre-game cheer.
When the players lined up on the sideline, all of them had a No. 52 sticker on the back of their helmets.
“When you suffer together, it brings you closer,” Valdin said. “Every kid on our team had a lot of respect for Matt.”
Oertling said that grief counselors have been on hand for all students who need them and that the students are still dealing with the tragic loss.
“It’s been a huge shock, but it shows you the type of family we have here at Hahnville,” he said. “We have all rallied together.”
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