There were players on the Holy Cross football field, but not the ones some suspected.
When news broke that several high schools in the New Orleans area had been reported for having started summer activities before the starting date of June 8 instituted by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association in wake of the coronavirus, Holy Cross, along with John Curtis Christian and St. Augustine were the schools named.
“We were out there, but we weren’t out there with Holy Cross players,” Holy Cross coach Nick Saltaformaggio said in a joking fashion.
The incident, Saltaformaggio said, stemmed from Holy Cross allowing a few professional players, among them New Orleans Saints lineman Derrick Kelly and John Leglue of the Green Bay Packers, and three Tulane players, to use the school’s athletic facilities.
“One of our offensive line coaches (A.J. Antonescu) was a graduate assistant at Florida State. The Saints, their facility was shut down and he (Kelly, a former Seminoles player) reached out to us see if he could come and lift at Holy Cross with a couple of his buddies,” Saltaformaggio explained. We said, ‘yeah, that’s fine with us.’
“He came in with another buddy of his who plays for the Green Bay Packer, who played at Tulane, John Leglue, who was actually with the Saints for a little while. They brought a couple Tulane guys with them.”
It may have been a case of mistaken identity, but Holy Cross linemen shouldn’t be confused with the 6-foot-5, 320-pound Kelly and Leglue, who stands 6-foot-6 and tips the scales at 301 pounds, Saltaformaggio said.
“Yeah, there were guys on our field. I wish that our offensive line looked like those guys,” said Saltaformaggio. “We haven’t had any high school kids on our campus since I’ve been there, which was April 1.”
Someone, Saltaformaggio said, filmed some video of the professional and college linemen.
“A coach from a rival school saw those five guys on the field and he videotaped it and they turned us in. If you got a look at the videotape, you saw the size of those guys, you know right away it wasn’t high school guys,” the recently-named new Holy Cross coach said. “I wasn’t worried about it because we haven’t broken any rules.”
It’s not the first time Saltaformaggio has been part of a controversy.
While head coach at Hahnville, Saltaformaggio was forced to sit out the first four games of the 2018 season when transfer quarterback Andrew Robison was ruled ineligible. A judge later declared Robison eligible. He played in the Tigers’ Week 10 regular-season finale and through the first two rounds of the Class 5A playoffs when the Tigers were eliminated.
“We (the Holy Cross coaching staff) kind of laughed about it when we realized what they were talking about with those five giant guys. I even told those guys, ‘we have to really be above and beyond board because of what happened with me at Hahnville with Andrew Robison. It doesn’t bother me. People are going to think what they are going to think and say what they are going to say.”