The Friday Night Lights always seem to shine just a little bit brighter in St. Charles Parish, where Destrehan and Hahnville high schools have long established their football programs as among the state’s true factors, year in and out.
But this week, those lights were among the countless out in St. Charles Parish following the destruction caused by Hurricane Ida. Both schools were to host games on the opening Friday of the prep football season, with Destrehan hosting Bonnabel and Hahnville playing host to fellow traditional River Parishes power West St. John. Both games were cancelled, and several more cancellations could be on the horizon.
A highly-anticipated season that was hoped to bring prep fans much closer to the normalcy of pre-COVID-19 game atmospheres, 2021 has brought the inverse. It may have seemed unthinkable just over a week ago that football would be among the furthest things from the minds of the residents of a gridiron-crazed region.
But it’s the reality, as players, coaches and fans alike battle the aftermath of the storm – with many of which having to brave the frightening storm itself from their homes. It is unknown when students will be able to return to class at the parish’s schools. The school district says it will take some time. Dr. Ken Oertling, St. Charles Parish Public Schools Superintendent, said that all 18 schools suffered some level of damage from the Category 4 storm, the damage catastrophic in some instances. Both DHS and HHS bear significant scars of Ida.
Destrehan head football coach Marcus Scott said Thursday not much has been discussed concerning athletics, given the situation at hand, and that the chief concern right now came down to the well-being of the community as a whole.
“The focus is on families and community at this time,” Scott said. “Athletics have not been discussed … I imagine step one would be to get electricity back, and then maybe some decisions can be made there.”
Destrehan’s Week 2 home game with out of state visitor Trinity-Byrnes of Darlington, South Carolina has been officially cancelled.
Hahnville head coach Daniel Luquet echoed Scott, noting Ida’s devastation on the community has thrown everything into flux.
“We are in wait and see mode,” Luquet said Thursday. He added the next few weeks are largely up in the air given the circumstances.
The second-year HHS head coach noted the Tigers’ locker room took on water, while the winds of Ida blew out the windows in his office. The football team isn’t alone in this regard – the baseball field absorbed damage and a wall collapsed on the new construction/addition to its gym, one of the more striking visuals of the damage for those passing by the school in Boutte.