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Contrasting styles in full display when SCC hosts St. Thomas More

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  • George Becnel
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  • November 21, 2018 - 1:08pm

File photosFrank Monica's St. Charles defense allows only 9.8 points per game but the Comets face a St. Thomas More offense scoring 59.5 points per outing.

Something’s gotta give in Laplace on Friday night.

Host St. Charles Catholic, the No. 2 seed in the Division III playoffs, enters its semifinal encounter with St. Thomas More allowing only 9.8 points per game. St. Thomas More, the No. 3 seed, is averaging 59.5 points per game.

In three of St. Charles’ eight wins this season, the Comets won by scoring 14 points. In another win, SCC won 13-7 in an overtime game against St. James.

By contrast, St. Thomas More’s lowest point total in any game came in the Cougars’ only loss – a Week 3 52-43 defeat to Catholic High of Baton Rouge.

So, is there any particular point total the Comets (8-3) have to strive for with a trip to the state championship game on the line?

“The difference is how many extra possessions are we going to give them?” said St. Charles coach Frank Monica. “Are we going to give them any turnovers or special teams possessions? That’s what we have to guard against. We cannot give them anything like that. We need to make them beat our defense.

“I don’t know if there is a magic number, but I do know this, we will have to score a few more points. It could be 14 or 21 might not be enough for this type of football team. I don’t know if we are capable of doing that. What we are capable of doing is taking care of the football,” said Monica.

The developments of the game, Monica said, could determine how daring the Comets’ play calling might be Friday night.

“The other thing is not to get behind the chains,” the St. Charles coach said. “Our offense cannot get behind the chains against them. If it means for us to go for it on fourth down a little bit, we might have to do that. We might have to live on the edge a little bit if we are going to defeat a team like this. I don’t know if field position matters to them with that big-armed quarterback. They don’t care if they are on your 5-yard line or their own 5-yard line.”

The big-armed quarterback, 6-foot-4, 212-pound junior Caleb Holstein, directs the Cougars’ spread offense.

“The quarterback likes to throw. He throws the hitches, the slants, he throws the RPO (run-pass option) stuff. He’s very accurate. He can see (the field because of his height). He’s not a runner but he gets the ball out of his hands quickly and they are a fast-paced offense.”

Holstein has a number of receivers he can go to, including Grant Arceneaux and Deion Senegal. Also a punter return, Arceneaux is the most dynamic of the group.

“The key for us is not if they catch the ball, is to get them down on the ground,” said Monica. “In my opinion, it’s never the catch, it’s the run after the catch. That will be big. We need to at least get some pressure to push the pocket a little bit and we will have to have some fresh rushers. They pride themselves on the number of snaps they get in a game and the yardage they get in the game, aside from the points.”

All of the passing sets up the ground game for running back William Cryer.

“They have a back that is really, really good. They do throw it so much, when they do run it, it’s very effective. They have people in their pass rush lanes and worrying about the sack, and all of a sudden, here comes the back running right by you. If he gets in the secondary, he will create some havoc,” said Monica.

Other than 296-pound center Landon Burton, the Cougars’ offensive line is not particularly big considering a roster of almost 100 players, consisting of only sophomores, juniors and seniors.

“They are good high school-sized guys. They can move their feet and that’s the most important thing you look for in an offensive lineman,” Monica said.

The size up front for the Cougars (10-1) comes in defense with tackles Burke Matthews, who weighs in at 320 pounds, and 280-pound Peyton Wilson.

Even of they have to take a few chances on fourth down, the Comets still must play within themselves if St. Charles is to have a chance against St. Thomas More, according to Monica.

“A big key is can we be in the game in the third and fourth quarters. Their offense can score so quickly, they make people panic with their offense, thinking ‘we can’t catch up just running the ball,’ and they get deeper and deeper in the hole. We have to make sure this game unfolds correctly in the first half,” he said.

So, what elements might it take for the Comets to be talking about heading to the state championship after Friday’s game?

“We didn’t turn over the ball, we prevented the big play, and our offense controlled the game,” Monica simply stated.

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.