GF Media Day 2023 Preview: Franklinton High School (Franklinton, LA)

Franklinton High School has produced tons of talent including two former LSU #18s in Terrance Magee and Brandon Taylor. The program has also won a state championship under Shane Smith back in 2010 and appeared in another state championship game the year before. Now, the Demons are looking to achieve the same level of success as they have done so in the late 2000’s with their new head coach Nick Saltaformaggio.

“I knew when Shane Smith called me what kind of program Franklinton was. When I was at East Jefferson, we were in the same district as those guys. Salmen, Pearl River, and Loranger were also in that district. Every year, somebody from that district was in the Superdome. It happened to be us once and it happened to be them twice. It didn’t take a lot of convincing for me to arrive. I am glad he called. It’s just a great opportunity for me personally, but I also think the school means so much to so many people. I’ve coached in New Orleans for almost my entire career and people love football here. It’s Friday night football. The people there love the school, but they love their football. It is a football town. I am looking forward to Friday nights.”

Franklinton Head Coach Nick Saltaformaggio

Coach Saltaformaggio has achieved a lot of success wherever he has been as he has a 183-92 overall record including stints at Abbeville, Chalmette, Oconee County (GA), East Jefferson, Hahnville, and Holy Cross. The longtime head coach has also led a couple of teams to the Superdome including a state championship title to East Jefferson in 2013 and Hahnville to a state championship runner-up finish back in 2017. Saltaformaggio knows a thing or two about turning around programs, but fortunately for him, he doesn’t have to start from scratch as former Mandeville head coach Guy LeCompte already placed the building blocks in pace after leading the Demons to a playoff appearance in 2022 before retiring at the end of the season.

“Our offseason has been really good. I started on January 9th. We have been in the weight room every day. I am fortunate to inherit an excellent football team. I would be remised if I didn’t talk about Guy LeCompte. I’ve said this to my players. This isn’t year one for them in our program. It may be year one for me, but Guy came in and did an endless amount of heavy lifting establishing a locker room base. I inherited the opportunity to take over that. People want to throw the word ‘Culture’ around a lot. For me, it is environment. He came in and changed the environment in our locker room. I didn’t have to do a lot of heavy lifting. Our program, the weight program, the conditioning program, we didn’t change a lot from an X’s and O’s perspective.”

Franklinton Head Coach Nick Saltaformaggio

When it comes to how Coach Saltaformaggio wins games, he wants to win on the lines of scrimmage. In fact, Saltaformaggio’s two best teams were run heavy teams and while in Georgia, he relied on the run a whole lot despite having a former LSU quarterback under center.

“I don’t like to throw much. I am not one of those “throw it 50 times a game” type guys. I think you create toughness in the run game and in the weight room. It has helped me at every place that I’ve ever been. As a matter of fact, the year that we won the state championship at EJ, we played 15 games and threw only 31 passes. That’s about where I want to be. It didn’t take a whole lot from where I want to be. I just love where I am and the players have been really receptive.”

“At Hahnville, I remember one day Pooka Williams was cutting up at practice and the coaches were saying that we should punish him and I said that we are going to punish him by running him 50 times. That’s the way it went and even when I was in Georgia and we were able to win it up there, I had Zach Mettenberger, and we didn’t throw the ball a whole lot with him. People thought I was crazy then, but as long as you are winning games, you are not as crazy as what people think you are.”

Franklinton Head Coach Nick Saltaformaggio

Offensive coordinator Matthew Hughes also agrees that this team will feature the running game led by a deep running back room that features experienced backs in Rayshone Manuel, who is extremely strong for his size by squatting over 600 pounds in the weight room, and the versatile do it all back Micah Hart, who can beat you as a runner and as a receiver in the slot at 6’0, 205 pounds, leading the way. Up front, Kevion Ginn leads the unit and will clear the path in the running game at 6’0, 283 pounds.

While the Demons are replacing their quarterback Zion Anders, the offense will hand over to the keys to sophomore Jacob Crain, who has a lot of weapons to throw to including the running backs and not to mention, four star wide receiver and Oklahoma commit Kelly Daniels.

“We’ve got several playmakers. We’ve got young guys that are coming up that we think are going to be really good players for us. We got a receiver in Michael Brock, who is a young rising junior. He’s got some potential. Our quarterback in the spring game Conner Magee is a receiver by nature. We made him a quarterback in the spring and we are utilizing him in the quarterback run game. He did that really well. He is a tough player. He is going to be a rising junior. We have Micah and Rayshone, who you met and spoke with. Those two guys can carry the football. They got great lateral quickness and top end speed. What Micah has that benefits him is the ability to make a jump cut with square shoulders, which is really important on zone runs. We’ve got a number of guys that I didn’t mention, but also on the offensive line, which is what I think is the strength of our team, that are going to be beneficial for us this upcoming year in establishing the run game which is where it is all going to start for us.

Franklinton OC Matt Hughes

Defensively, the side of the ball is led by the athletic Timothy Partman, who is arguably the team’s best athlete, at linebacker, and a deep secondary, which features Skylar Williams, Jairon Clark, Avery Brumfield, Rickken Burkhalter, and Elijah Tate.

The skill talent is there for the Demons to compete with everybody on their schedule including a tough non-district schedule that features Bogalusa, Covington, Fontainebleau, Denham Springs, and Belle Chasse before playing in a tough district that features Archbishop Hannan, Pearl River, Salmen, and Loranger.

According to Saltaformaggio, the talent is not only in place, but the buy in from players is already there as well.

“Some guys get caught up in the recruiting process and forget to love the school. You are not going to win a championship that way. If you are worried more about stars than rings, you are not going to win a championship. For me, it is about the rings. I walked into an environment where that could happen this year. We have very good football players. We have a kid that is committed to Oklahoma in Kelly Daniels. We are going to have two to three more very soon that will get offers and get commitments from schools. At the end of the day, they better love Franklinton High School and Franklinton football or you won’t see them on Friday nights. It’s the lesson that we continue to teach. If you narrow down to one word in what they are going to see on Friday nights, they are going to see wins. That is what they are going to see.”

Franklinton Head Coach Nick Saltaformaggio

The talent, coaching, and the buy in from the fans and community is certainly there in order to bring the Franklinton Demons back to the top of the conversation.

“The people there are unbelievable. It is just not the people at the school, but it is the people in the community as well. I told Coach Salt that these people are the salt of the earth. They are really down to earth, very humble, yet wise. There is a country wisdom in the community, and they are supportive of Franklinton High School football. Friday nights in Franklinton are a big deal. They look forward to Friday nights and shut down the city to come and see us play. That is an attractive quality that not a lot of people possess.”

“Our future is incredibly bright. I think that Coach Salt has brought in a culture of toughness. We’ve developed a tremendous work ethic. Our kids are working hard towards the future, and they believe that it is right as well. We got a lot of community support, a great head coach, a great administration, and a great staff, for success. There is no reason to not be optimistic about the future. We are grinding every single day to work towards a common goal of improving, and that is all we are focusing on. We have high aspirations for this team.”

Franklinton OC Matt Hughes

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