Disbelief was the basic emotion for most, including Central football coach Sid Edwards, who coached Esnault at Redemptorist.
“You know, it’s really hard to put it into words,” Edwards said. “Your heart goes out to that family. He’s got two young children and was such a significant presence for everyone in the family.”
Esnault, a linebacker-safety was part of two state championshio teams when he played for Edwards at Redemptorist. He never realized his dream of playing college football, but he started ti groom Brossette for success back in 2003 right after the Wolves beat John Curtis to win the Class 4A state title.
Esnault had his young sibling walk the field of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with him after the game. That proved to be a pretty good prelude to Brossette’s prolific career as a U-High running back.
Just like his brother, Brossette closed out his career by winning a state title in the Dome as the Cubs beat District 7-3A rival Parkview Baptist to claim the Division II select crown last December.
Edwards and others focused on Esnault, who worked at a local plant. Edwards said Esnault had suffered a seizure several months ago and was stricken over night.
“He never got to play college football, but I’ll tell you he was one of the best who ever played for me,” Edwards said. “He was a defender who went after ball carriers like a heat-seeking missle. He was relentless.”
Edwards said he received word of Esnault’s death in the early morning hours and was soon getting calls from some of Esnault’s former teammates, including Jay Lucas and Alex McFadden.
Livonia head coach Guy Mistretta, the Redemptorist defensive coordinator during Esnault’s career, fought back tears as he remembered his former players.
“I’m having a hard time with this,” Mistretta said. “He was such a great player as a kid and such a fine young man. I really wanted to get him into coaching with me, but he just wasn’t in a place where he could do that.
“He was the man of the household for that family from the time he was 15 years old, but he never let on. He just went about his business.
“I keep thinking about Nick and the family and what they’ve lost. Mendel was so special. And they were so close. I have no doubt that Nick will go out and excel because of the example Mendel set.”
Mistretta and Edwards both recalled an incident that took place after Esnault’s senior football season.
The family was using a generator for power and was overcome with carbon monoxide poisoning. Esnault awoke and carried the other family members, including Brossette, to safety.
“I remember sitting next to Mendel’s bed in the hospital with Nick sitting on my lap,” Mistretta recalled. “The family’s been through so much. And now this.”