Saltaformaggio: ‘I was torn … I know what I’m leaving behind.’

Coach Nick Saltaformaggio
Coach Nick Saltaformaggio speaks to his Hahnville players after a preseason jamboree in 2018.

Hahnville High School head football coach Nick Saltaformaggio has resigned from his position, as he has accepted the open head football coaching position at Holy Cross.

Saltaformaggio, a Holy Cross alumnus, has headed the Hahnville program for the past six seasons, having led the Tigers to two district championships and one state runner-up finish, the Tigers reaching the Class 5A state championship game in 2017.

His departure marks the second of the parish’s two prep head football coaches to move on and comes one week after the St. Charles Parish school district tabbed Marcus Scott, formerly head coach of John Ehret, to fill the shoes of the retiring Stephen Robicheaux at Destrehan.

“It came together in about 48 hours,” said Saltaformaggio. “It was just too much to pass up. I love Holy Cross and I love Hahnville. I was torn, but this was a family decision I had to make.”

Saltaformaggio said proximity to home and the chance to see his grandsons grow up, potentially as future Holy Cross students, weighed heavily.

“For 39 years, every coaching decision I’ve made was for myself first and my family second,” he said. “This time, it was time for me to put (his wife) Sharon, my grandsons, my family first.”

Hahnville went 55-23 in Saltaformaggio’s tenure, including a 9-3 mark last season. The Tigers started 2019 8-0, won a share of the District 7-5A championship and won a first round playoff game against Chalmette, where Saltaformaggio served as head coach in the early 2000s.

The Tigers’ run last season ended in round two at the hands of Zachary, a 21-19 loss on the road that came in agonizing – and controversial – fashion, when an apparent game-winning field goal by Hahnville’s Tate White was negated by a holding penalty on what was thought to be the game’s final snap. A second field goal attempt fell no good.

“In six years, we managed to win 55 games, go to the state championship game and win two district championships,” Saltaformaggio said. “I think we took a program that was something of a sleeping giant and turned things for the better. The thing I’ll miss the most is the locker room and the kids. I may not have always been the most understood guy there, but I think the kids did understand what we were out to accomplish.”

One of the toughest parts of his departure was the lack of opportunity to say goodbye in person to his players, in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was terrible,” Saltaformaggio said. “I’ve never been great with technology and I guess that came back to bite me … it’s tough on both ends. I probably won’t have the opportunity to tell my Hahnville family goodbye in person, and I probably won’t have the chance until who knows when to tell my Holy Cross family hello in person.
It’s just the time we’re living in, I guess.”

He succeeds Guy LeCompte as head of the Holy Cross program. LeCompte resigned from the post in early March after going 11-10 in two years with the school, going on to accept the head coaching position at Country Day.
Saltaformaggio graduated from Holy Cross in 1977, 14 years after the school’s last state football championship.

“I was at their gym for a basketball game and I looked up at that banner,” Saltaformaggio recalled. “1963. I was staring at it and it dawned on me … almost two generations of people have gone by since Holy Cross was at that level. It kind of stuck with me and ate at me a little bit. And it’s like … you start thinking, I’m a football coach. I’m not a fan in the stands. I can do something.”

When Saltaformaggio took the Hahnville position six years ago, he said it was his dream job. Even as he departed Wednesday, he held firm to that.

“I know what I’m leaving behind,” Saltaformaggio said. “I know I have great assistant coaches at Hahnville and a great support system there. I hope in my six years there I represented it well.”

There was only one job, he says, he’d have ever left for.

“It was the only one,” Saltaformaggio said. “The only one. Every year it seems like someone says I’m going somewhere. But this was the one.”

 

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