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Comets host ‘scrappy’ St. Louis squad in 2017 playoff debut

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  • George Becnel
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  • November 15, 2017 - 3:12pm

File photosFrank Monica's St. Charles Comets had a bye week in the opening round to rest up for Friday night's Division II playoff encounter against visiting St. Louis.

As the St. Charles Catholic Comets sat back with an opening-round bye in the Division II playoff, they were trying to get an idea of who they may host in the second round.

The Comets were leaning toward one-loss E.D. White but then started to take a closer look at 3-7 St. Louis. When St. Louis rallied to edge the Cardinals 22-21, the Saints started to look a bit more formidable.

“We didn’t know for sure who it was going to be,” St. Charles coach Frank Monica said. “We actually were kind of leaning toward E.D. White but after looking at (St. Louis), we realized they were a very explosive, dangerous team.

“They have a heck of a quarterback that’s very, very talented. They have a good running back and they pound the inside on you. They stretch the field vertically and horizontally. They are a big-play team. They work for explosive plays. They average over 30 points a game.”

Among the Saints’ defeats were losses to the likes of Iowa, Jennings and Leesville.

“The thing that’s lost in the whole deal is that they’ve played good competition. They are battle tested,” said Monica.

The bye week gave the Comets a chance to heal up but it also meant the Saints had a chance to get opening-game playoff jitters out of the way.

“It’s sort of awkward. We’re not used to it,” Monica said of the bye week. “We never did like open dates but in that particular situation, it came in handy. We were a team that still had some bumps and bruises so this way, it gave us a chance to heal up.

“We tried to practice a little bit on our fundamentals the St. Charles way. I think we got that done. We handled it the best we could. We gave them off (last) Monday and Friday and came back on Saturday morning and had a light intro about who we are going to see.”

The aforementioned quarterback for St. Louis is Bailey Hardy, who Monica compares to Donaldsonville’s Jaylin Williams.

“He has an excellent arm. He throws a real nice ball and has a tight spiral on it. He can really throw the deep ball well,” Monica said.

The Saints, Monica said, are basically a spread, zone-read type team.

“They throw the ball to the perimeter on the bubbles and they will throw it vertically on you and then they will hit you with the big running back inside,” said Monica.

The Saints utilize a pair of running backs in Jeremiah Ceasar and Jaleel Goodwin. Goodwin is the bigger back at 190 pounds.

“They alternate them a little bit. They are excellent players, especially inside. They will run them inside on zone plays and the quarterback will pull it a lot and keep it himself,” Monica explained.

Top receiving targets for St. Louis include Jadon Johnson and Conner Williams.

The Saints play an even front on defense.

“They play a 4-2-5 with a lot of man coverage. They will put a lot of people at the line of scrimmage and try and take away our run game. That’s what they’ve done to everybody. They’re talented enough to play man coverage on you,” Monica explained.

Defensive standouts include linebackers Matt Houston and Grant Cholley, along with defensive end Connor Welsh.

“They play extremely, extremely hard. They run to the ball. They play on their feet. You don’t see them on the ground very often,” Monica said of the St. Louis defenders.

A major weapon for St. Louis is Adam Ieyoub, the Saints’ kicker and punter.

“Their kicker has a real strong leg. When he kicks off, you are going to start from your 20,” Monica said.

The St. Charles coach said there is no give-up in the Saints.

“I guess they best term you can use for them is that they are ‘scrappy.’ They don’t quit. They play the game to the end. They don’t look at the scoreboard. They just keep playing,” Monica said.

George Becnel | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

George Becnel is an award-winning journalist and has been a sports writer and editor for more than 30 years.