Hahnville’s Daniel Luquet seemed to be speaking for many of his fellow football coaches.
“Everything is right with the world,” the first-year Hahnville coach said.
Luquet’s pronouncement came Friday after word of compromise from a House Education Committee in Baton Rouge would allow for high school football to be played even if the state stays in Phase 2.
While all may not be quite right with a world dealing with a coronavirus pandemic, Luquet’s sentiment was echoed throughout the River Parishes, a hotbed for prep football.
“I cannot be more excited or more happy for, obviously, my seniors, but for the seniors around this state,” said Riverside Academy football coach Kevin Dizer. “Football in Louisiana means so much and it was so hard to watch everybody else playing in neighboring states and we’re not.
“I’m so happy our kids get an opportunity to play. Coaching-wise, we have tried to follow every protocol and procedure to the ‘T’. We’ve done that for months now. The kids deserve a chance to play and I am excited for them.”
“We are very excited about having some concrete information as to when we will be playing,” said St. James coach Robert Valdez. “I would like to have been playing sooner but given the circumstances and the situation, we’re good. We will be prepared to go, and hopefully, we can get a full season in.”
That concrete information likely will include meeting an earlier-established target date for games to begin October 8-10 to salvage an eight-game regular season.
“It makes coming to practice on Labor Day morning at 8 a.m. a lot more exciting because now can start counting down the days,” said Luquet.
Official word likely will come next week from Louisiana High School Athletic Association Executive Director Eddie Bonine after a meeting of the association’s Executive Committee.
Until then, teams will be practicing under the current Phase 2 protocols, which does not allow full contact.
“We are status quo until they come out some guidelines, changes and adjustments,” said Luquet.
While the coaches agree that the regular season likely will not be moved up from the target date of October 8-10, they said they would like to see teams get a chance to have some sort of work against another team before the Friday night lights are officially turned on.
“I don’t see it being pushed up, and honestly, I wouldn’t want it pushed up. The only thing I’d like to see is a week added for scrimmages. Once you put the pads on, it takes kids time to adjust before they go play an all-out football game. So, I think three or four weeks is the appropriate time frame when you put on pads to when you should start competition against somebody,” said Dizer.
“I think we have enough time to have either a scrimmage or a jamboree,” said Valdez, whose St. James team is the defending Class 3A state champions. “Can we get in a scrimmage for a jamboree, something that will be able to give us a chance to simulate a dress rehearsal? I think it’s something worth looking into. You don’t want to out there and it’s Week 1 because there will be so many mistakes. You kind of want to work out the jitters beforehand.
“Now, you are only playing and eight-game season, so every one of those games has to count. You are talking about power points, you are talking about seeding, all these different things. There isn’t much room for error.”
Just as important as a start date, the coaches agree, is a measured approach to getting there.
“The biggest thing right now is trying to be prepared but you have to be cautious. My biggest concern is that some coaches may rush into things and by the time you get to play, the kids may be a little burned out. You have to be careful with them, but you have to be ready to play a full game,” said Valdez.
Continuing to adhere to the protocols in place, the coaches said, will continue to be important moving forward.
“We’ve gotten to this point because we’ve done a great job as coaches across the state, as players across the state, schools across the state, doing what we’re supposed to be doing. You don’t want to take the next five weeks for granted and just rush things. We still need to continue to do the protocol stuff that is being put out to us because that’s why we’re at where we’re at,” Luquet said.