- Feature Story
- Game Preview
- George Becnel
- September 25, 2017 - 6:43pm
When St. Charles Catholic defeated East Ascension 22-0 a year ago, it came a week after Frank Monica was taking from the field with a medical ailment while playing Central of Baton Rouge.
The medical condition was legitimate but it had the sound of an old Knute Rockne motivational ploy to win one for the coach.
What might Monica use for motivation against this year’s Spartans squad when the teams meet Friday night in Gonzales?
“I might not show up at all. They (the Comets) play better when I don’t show up,” Monica joked.
No joking matter to the Comets will be trying to stop East Ascension’s Jimel London. The Spartans’ human highlight reel, London is coming off a performance against Cecilia in which he had scoring runs of 52, 77, 26 and 13 yards.
In a season-opening 30-13 triumph over Lutcher, London returned a kick and punt for touchdowns. He also had an interception and had two other touchdowns called back.
“He’s an incredible athlete but they have more than just one,” Monica said.
While London has a nose for the end zone, what catches the eyes of opposing teams is the massive offensive line of the Spartans (3-1), led by LSU commitment Cameron Wire, listed at 6-foot-6, 238 pounds but seems to loom much larger. Wire missed the Lutcher game with a nagging injury but is now back to anchor the East Ascension line.
“He’s back – unfortunately for us,” Monica said.
Other eye-catching linemen include the likes of 285-pound junior Isaac Redditt and Falepule Alo, a 320-pound sophomore.
“They are massive. They could push us all the way back to St. John Parish,” said Monica.
The East Ascension offense, Monica said, is more than just London and the offensive line.
“They have several guys that touch the ball. Their skill is just unbelievable. They are, by far, the biggest team we’ve ever played. Their offensive line is massive. If they had a fleur-de-lis on their helmet, they would look like the Saints. They have a blend of big linemen and great skill. Whoever touches the ball for them is capable of going the route,” the St. Charles coach said.
Two of those guys include running backs Ralph Williams and Evan Copeland.
“Ralph Williams is the faster of the two. Evan Copeland is a big, powerful guy. He’s a bowling ball-type guy. When he gets downhill on you, he is hard to stop. They have been running the ball better and better and it really helps them set up the throws,” said Monica.
Doing the throwing in East Ascension’s spread offense is junior quarterback Jason Wakefield.
“He doesn’t run a lot but he’s very capable of running,” Monica said of Wakefield. “He’s a good thrower and he gets the ball out of his hands. He’s got some really, really quality athletes around him. They only have one ball to pass around, thank God. He has a lot of kids out there that need the football but they can’t all have the equal amount of touches.”
One of the guys Wakefield attempts to get the ball to is senior receiver Thomas Levy.
“He’s a pretty athlete. He has great hands and he runs good routes,” said Monica.
East Ascension’s defensive line is just as imposing as its offensive counterparts.
Anchoring the defensive line for the Spartans is 304-pound junior nose guard Stanford Knockum.
“He’s not just big. He’s strong and mobile,” said Monica.
Others up front include 250-pound Jordan Campbell and Adrian Bowie.
Leading the linebacker corps is Adrian Johnson while London also plays on defense at cornerback.
The Comets have remained unbeaten at 4-0 despite an ever-growing list of injuries. Running back Narquez Jones is the latest casualty with a knee injury. Already out for St. Charles is quarterback Lloyd Nash, linebacker Dellary Oubre and offensive lineman Jared Babesh. Defensive lineman Aaron Johnson also is out after an appendectomy.
“It’s making us really, really scramble. We’ve never seen anything like this year,” said Monica.
The Comets will have to scramble one more time if they are to remain undefeated going into district play.
“We have to slow down their offense and stop the big plays,” Monica said. “We have got to find a way to make a couple of first downs. Their defense is just so physical. They can throw you around. We have to stay away from negative-yard plays and not be behind the chains. If we are behind the chains against them, that’s it.
“We have to make sure we don’t give up anything in the special teams department – make them beat your defense and not your special teams.”