Head coaches reflect on special rivalry

Hahnville head coach Daniel Luquet has a unique perspective when it comes to the Hahnville-Destrehan rivalry – he’s seen it from so many vantage points and from both sides of the river.

Luquet’s experienced it in the huddle, when he was quarterbacking Destrehan against Hahnville in his prep playing days. He’s experienced it as an assistant coach, helping to devise ways to fell the Tigers while on former DHS head coach Stephen Robicheaux’s staff, and then later trying to best the Wildcats as Hahnville’s offensive coordinator under former head coach Nick Saltaformaggio.

A lifelong resident of the River Parishes, Luquet knows very well how this game captures the community’s imagination.

“You never know what’s going to happen. There’s that ebb and flow between these teams where you can really throw out the records,” Luquet said. “These kids know each other, play against each other in middle school, in recreation … you have aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins who have all been part of this rivalry on one side or another.

“You and I could go to work and sit at desks across from each other, and we’re friends 52 of 53 weeks. But that one week, it’s a matter of is Hahnville going to win or is Destrehan going to win? It makes it special.”

Luquet has a vivid memory of the rivalry from his playing days. With Destrehan facing a Hahnville team loaded with talent, it shook off an early deficit to rally back for victory.

“They were led by Nick Cannon, Ryan Keys and LaRon Landry,” Luquet recalled. “And a lot of other really good players … to be honest, they were probably better than us. They jumped up on us in the first half. We kind of nickel and dimed them in the second half and ended up winning. They were a better team than we were, but we played a complete football game that day.”

Another battle he remembers well came when he was a member of Robicheaux’s staff in the latter’s return to the team after a two-year absence – a 47-44 Hahnville win in double overtime that knocked the Wildcats out of playoff contention.

“Sergio Medina ran in the winning score,” Luquet said. “I remember that locker room and all of the kids talking, saying ‘this will never happen again.’”

The Destrehan kids followed through a year later, winning decisively and illustrating the constant ebb and flow to the rivalry Luquet alluded to.

For Destrehan head coach Marcus Scott, this will be the third season he’s been directly involved in the rivalry, including two seasons as Robicheaux’s defensive coordinator in 2016 and 2017. That said, the ‘16 season was hardly his introduction to the heated series.

“My family, on my dad’s side, they’re from St. Charles Parish, so I’ve known about this for a long time,’ Scott said.

Experiencing it firsthand was eye-opening, all the same, he said.

“I remember coming out (in 2016) in pregame, hours before kickoff, and both student sections were already packed,” Scott said. “It was already an electric atmosphere.”

From the vantage point of head coach, the Purple and Gold cannot ever stray that far outside of his attention.

“I’ve been answering questions about Hahnville for a month, now,” Scott said with a chuckle. “It’s one of those things within a community that just brings extra energy along with it. This is one of the best rivalries in the country, not just locally.”

While Scott never played for either school, like Luquet he is no stranger to what it is to play in a major rivalry, and the intensity that comes with it. The former Jesuit Blue Jay remembers going head to head in one of the storied rivalries of the Catholic League – Holy Cross week meant just that much more more than other games. He’s experienced it as both a player and as a coach.

“My first game against Holy Cross was actually Jesuit’s 500th victory,” Scott said. “I was just a sophomore and at that time, I didn’t realize the scope of it until I got older and started meeting people who went to both schools and saw how much it meant to everybody.”

Ehret/West Jefferson is another big rivalry he’s been a part of – from both sidelines, as he’s spent time with each school. And then there’s the River Bell Classic from his collegiate days at Nicholls State, when it would be time to square off with Southeastern.

“I’ve been fortunate to be involved with all of them,” Scott said. “It’s one of those things that make all of this special to be a part of.”

 

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