Daniel Luquet grew up watching his father Marty guide his prep baseball teams to win after win, and knew he wanted to one day be just like him.
When the latter retired, he capped a long and prolific run at Destrehan. But a Luquet is once again at the helm of one of the state’s traditional powers – and one of St. Charles Parish’s greatest passions – as he was named head football coach of the Hahnville Tigers, something Luquet described as a longtime dream come true.
“It’s everything I could ever want, from the faculty to the administration to the kids, the parents and this community,” Luquet said of his new position. “I’ve been a part of this community for a long time and I know how exciting it gets here during football season. But for me, now it’s not only just football season, but it’s for 365 days.”
Luquet, 37, served as the Tigers’ offensive coordinator last season on the staff of former Tigers coach Nick Saltaformaggio, who stepped down earlier this year to accept the same position at Holy Cross, his alma mater. It ended a six year run for the veteran coach, who joined Hahnville in 2014 and guided the Tigers to the Class 5A state championship game in 2017.
For Luquet, the Hahnville job is his second as a head coach, his previous experience coming at Woodlawn in Baton Rouge. That chance came in similar circumstance, as Luquet was hired to lead the Panthers program following a season as its offensive coordinator.
That Luquet, who was raised in Destrehan and quarterbacked for DHS during his prep playing days, gets the chance to do so in his home region makes this all the sweeter. This is, without question, his destination job.
“This is the last stop for me,” said Luquet. “This district is the best of the best. I have two young daughters who are going to go through this system and a wife who is a teacher in our school system. This is our home … it’s always been home to me.”
It was tough to leave his position at Destrehan in the first place, he admitted. After six years as an assistant coach at Destrehan, he decided to leave his comfort zone when the chance to serve as offensive coordinator at Woodlawn arose, where he’d join the staff of his good friend and former college teammate Brett Beard. Beard departed after a year to accept the head coaching position at Live Oak, and Luquet was promoted.
“Leaving Destrehan was difficult, but I also knew I wanted to be a head coach. My dad was one for my entire life, and I always knew that’s what my calling was,” Luquet said. “I never expected to go to do that for five years in Baton Rouge, but I took a chance. And their administration took a shot on a guy who they’d hired six months before. They gave me that chance and I gave all I could for that program and that school …. but it was time for me to come home.”
In some ways, he never left. Even while coaching at Woodlawn, he and his family continued to live in Luling. Luquet said he knew his intention was to return for a job closer to his residence, but it was a matter of finding the right opportunity.
Saltaformaggio presented just that when he brought Luquet on to overhaul the Tigers’ offense. Following a 2018 season that began in nightmarish fashion for Hahnville – the eligibility battle between the school and the LHSAA over the eligibility of Andrew Robison and a multi-game suspension for Saltaformaggio helped set the table for a passing game that struggled mightily. Luquet, whose roots are traced from Destrehan’s vaunted Air Raid spread offense, was tasked with restoring balance to the Tiger attack. The offense made significant strides in 2019, with junior quarterback Andrew Naquin finding his groove.
Eight offensive starters are slated to return this Fall when Hahnville kicks off the 2020 season, and Luquet is excited to see what his players can achieve after a full year in his scheme.
“I think we made some big strides last season,” Luquet said. “You get there in January for year one, and there’s a lot you have to teach. I thought our guys did a great job learning a new offense and thriving in it. With eight coming back, we have a great chance to build on what we do. The sky’s the limit.”
While the scheme is the same, Luquet said you may well see the ball in the air a bit more than in recent years. While Saltaformaggio’s philosophy is to hammer opponents with the run, Luquet’s is more about pace and space. ‘
“Coach Salt is more run-oriented, (while) I like to throw it around a little bit more,” Luquet said. “(It’s about) trying to get the ball out there quickly into the hands of guys who can take it the distance.”
One thing the two couldn’t agree more on, however, is the importance of a strong defense. The Tigers will be less experienced on that side of the ball, but the continuity of the coaching staff and scheme should help the team’s young players under defensive coordinator Carey Melvin.
“At the end of the day, you win with great defense,” Luquet said. “I know we’ll be young and fast. We’re losing some great players there … we’re going to be disciplined on both sides of the ball. You’ll have to come in to Tiger Stadium and beat us, because we won’t beat ourselves. We’re going to hang our hats on being disciplined on offense, defense and special teams, and playing really, really solid football like this district has come to expect.”