Better late than never, it appears prep football is on the verge of return.
The LHSAA announced Wednesday that school football programs would be permitted to resume contact drills and ultimately return to action the Oct. 1-3, moving the season’s start date up from a proposed Oct. 8 start date following Gov. John Bel Edwards’ extension of Phase II earlier this summer (Bel Edwards announced Thursday that the state would be moving into Phase III.
Edwards made comments last week noting that the Louisiana reopening plan does not entail high school football, and that the LHSAA has chosen to this point to tie its own plan in synergy with the state’s.
Reports broke last week that the LHSAA’s decision to resume football was likely, and for many prep players who have been practicing without a target start date cemented, the news was more than welcome.
“This really changes everything,” said Hahnville quarterback Drew Naquin. “Since the summer started, we didn’t know if we could play. It made practice so monotonous. This is such a huge feeling of relief for my teammates and I.”
For both Destrehan and Hahnville alike, there are big changes beyond COVID protocols. DHS and HHS have each introduced new head coaches this year, with Destrehan choosing Marcus Scott, formerly of John Ehret, to succeed Stephen Robicheaux and Hahnville promoting Daniel Luquet from offensive coordinator to succeed Nick Saltaformaggio. Robicheaux announced his retirement in February following National Signing Day, while Saltaformaggio departed Hahnville for his alma mater, Holy Cross, a few weeks later.
“It wasn’t just the waiting, but so much else has changed. We have a new head coach in Coach Luquet, and it’s been a different way of preparing through all of this,” Naquin said. “So there’s been a lot of anxiousness to get out there and go about it.”
Teams are set to start their seasons with Week 3 of their initial schedule, with the first two weeks and jamboree cancelled. That would place Hahnville opening at home against Higgins and Destrehan at St. Paul’s. Teams are permitted to scrimmage Sept. 24-26. Each regular season schedule will be eight games.
“To be honest, you could start us up against the New Orleans Saints and I’d sign right up,” Luquet quipped.
He said he felt a weight had been lifted upon the news.
“I’ve been sitting here watching a movie with my girls, and I can tell you it’s a lot easier knowing we can start counting down some days,” Luquet said. “We have 87 kids on varsity and 55 freshmen. They’ve come every day and busted their tail this summer. To finally have games coming and for them to have that chance to do what they’ve wanted to do on Friday night’s for the past 10, 12 years growing up, I’m so happy for them.”
On Friday, Scott was extremely pleased to learn that the likelihood was his Wildcats would be able to return to the field.
“It looks like it’ll happen and that’s, first and foremost, such a great thing for these kids who have worked so hard,” Scott said. “I’m definitely excited and it helps to have another team to prepare for now. It’s been hard for everyone, not knowing … everyone’s been doing what needs to be done to get ready to get out there and compete, and this is a very good thing for everyone.
“Our players, parents, support group and community members don’t take the opportunity to compete for granted. We’re extremely pleased.”
One of the greatest sources of anxiety for prep seniors has been the potential to completely lose out on their final chance to showcase their skills and potentially earn a college scholarship.
“It was a very big concern,” Naquin said. “The only source we had on everything was Twitter and that’s not always the most reliable thing. We’d go on and see certain colleges talking about the Class of 2022. Sometimes there was a sense of hopelessness, because we didn’t know what was going on and it seemed like schools were giving up on us and leaving us behind.”