Saltaformaggio excited to begin at HHS
Published 11:45 pm Friday, February 21, 2014
By RYAN ARENA
LAPLACE — Nick Saltaformaggio acknowledged that it’s always hard to leave coaches and players behind when moving from one job to another — but there was not a hint of regret in the coach’s voice when speaking about his new post.
Hahnville, he believes, is a “destination” job. And if so, Saltaformaggio has arrived.
He was officially named the Tigers’ new head football coach Wednesday at the St. Charles Parish school board meeting, succeeding longtime coach Lou Valdin, who stepped down in December.
“It’s a great job,” said Saltaformaggio, 54. “Right away, I knew it was the right move. Just the idea of being at such a prestigious school with the football tradition of a Hahnville … I couldn’t be more excited about this. I can’t wait to get started.”
Saltaformaggio, 54, beat out an impressive list of candidates that was whittled down to five finalists in late January, including St. Charles Catholic defensive coordinator Wayne Stein, Pearl River Central (Miss.) coach Eric Collins, Hahnville offensive line coach John Lambert and John Ehret defensive backs coach Skip LaMothe.
Saltaformaggio was the hottest name on the list, though, after he led East Jefferson to its first state championship in the program’s history, guiding the Warriors to a perfect 15-0 season and Class 4A championship. He was named the national high school coach of the year by NationalHSfootball.com.
He nearly didn’t apply for the job, noting he originally had reservations about competing against Collins, Saltaformaggio’s long time friend. He served as Collins’ defensive coordinator at both Hannan and Chalmette before he succeeded Collins as Chalmette’s head coach.
But Collins wouldn’t let his friend sit this one out.
“He talked me into it,” said Saltaformaggio. “He didn’t want me sitting out on his account. We’re both very competitive guys and he said, ‘Well, I’m in, put your name in, and may the best man win.’”
He replaces Valdin, who put together a sterling run at the school before stepping down for health reasons. Valdin went 132-48 at Hahnville, highlighted by a state championship victory over Evangel in 2003, capping an undefeated season for the Tigers.
HHS reached the playoffs in each of the last 14 seasons under Valdin’s watch.
Saltaformaggio is aware of all of it.
“Just as a guy who loves high school football, particularly here in our state, Hahnville is a special place,” he said.
While his East Jefferson offense was heavily option-based, he said that he’d “like to throw a lot more” at Hahnville, noting the Tigers ability to stretch the field vertically with strong receiving talent and pass protect given the size of its lineman.
But, he said, the option will still be a staple.
“I’ll never get too far away from the option,” he said. “As a coach, it’s one of my favorite things to play around with and base ideas off of.”