There’s nowhere on earth, Marty Luquet reckons, where he’s more relaxed than that third base coaching box by the baseball diamond. The former longtime Destrehan Wildcats head baseball coach has found himself back there this summer after a three-year absence, leading perennial American Legion contender Gauthier & Amedee into what he hopes will be a state championship run and, potentially, an eventual trip to the American Legion World Series in August.
The team was 17-4-1 entering the week and will begin competition Saturday at the Southeast Regional. If Gauthier & Amedee wins there, it will advance to the state championship tournament.
The opportunity arose for Luquet when Jody Amedee III, who Luquet coached during Amedee’s freshman year at Nicholls State, was looking for someone experienced to head his club.
“I wanted to get back in,” Luquet said. “The last two years, I’d coached in the All-American league and with the summer league at Delgado (both as an assistant). Those were great experiences, but it’s just not the same as running your own team. (The Delgado team) is together for about three weeks. This is a chance to be with these kids from the end of May all the way through the end of your season.
“Hopefully, that will be in the World Series in the middle of August, but you just don’t know.”
Gauthier & Amedee has long been an American Legion power, a multi-time state champion seeking its first state title since 2013. The team combines players primarily from East Ascension, St. Amant and Dutchtown. Of Luquet’s 18 players this summer, 10 are committed to play collegiately, including eight seniors and two juniors.
“There’s a whole lot of talent and a lot of pitching depth,” Luquet said. “That’s what you need to make long runs in these tournaments. It makes it fun.”
It’s been a fun ride so far for Luquet, who still loves coaching. He stepped down from the helm of Destrehan three years ago so he could provide care for his mother, who passed away in 2014.
“I gave it up for her,” Luquet said. “She passed away … I lost my team, lost my mother. It’s been difficult.”
Before he left Destrehan, he certainly made his mark on the prep baseball landscape. Luquet won more than 400 games during his career, through tenures at four different schools. He left at the top of his coaching game — his final season saw Destrehan go 29-6 and rank as one of Class 5A’s top teams all season.
He took the Wildcats to two state championship games, in 2003 and 2005. In 2004, the Wildcats fell in the state quarterfinals: it was the team’s lone loss that season en route to a 33-1 record. And every Destrehan team Luquet coached qualified for the postseason, 12 trips in 12 seasons.
One thing Luquet made clear: he is not retired. He said he’s talked to decision-makers at a few different high schools about returning to the coaching ranks, but that those opportunities either fell through or ultimately weren’t right for him.
But Luquet’s eye is still on that ball.
“I always have my eyes open looking for another opportunity,” he said. “Not being in that (third base box) for three years has been tough. I’m ready to come back.”
First thing’s first: directing this Gauthier team to a fantastic finish.
“They’ll be disappointed with anything short of winning a state championship. They’re used to competing for that,” Luquet said.
Of course, he’d love a deep run himself. He said it won’t be easy, though. The rival Southland Hogs, a Houma-based team put together much like Gauthier & Amedee, has battled his team to a virtual stalemate in a series of games this summer. Teams based from Jesuit, St. Charles Catholic, Hahnville and — of course — Destrehan are always in the mix, he said.
A scheduled meeting between Gauthier & Amedee and Destrehan, in fact, was set for this summer, but like so many other Legion games in 2017, it fell victim to rain cancellation.
The two teams could meet down the line if both continue to advance, which would pit Luquet against his former protégé, Destrehan coach Chris Mire, who heads the Destrehan-based ES&H Legion squad.
Matchups like that would be and have been fun wrinkles for Luquet, who’s simply doing what he loves these days.
“One thing about being an older guy who’s been around a long time, I coached against those coaches when they were players,” Luquet said. “Everybody we play, I say, I coached him, and I coached him … they say, ‘Man, did you miss anybody at all?’ I watched those guys grow up, from high school kids into college players and then onto coaching.
“It’s unique, it’s fun, and makes not able to coach a high school team a little more tolerable. It all makes it so fun.”