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Monica, Comets seek to regain momentum entering playoffs

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  • George Becnel
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  • November 01, 2017 - 4:04pm

File photosFrank Monica's St. Charles Catholic Comets seek to avoid a two-game losing streak entering the playoffs with a win over St. James on Friday night.

Someone from Friday’s St. James-St. Charles Catholic game will go into the playoffs coming off a loss – Frank Monica would prefer it not be his Comets

Both teams are 7-2 overall and 3-1 in District 10-3A. Each team’s district loss was to top-ranked De La Salle.

In the case of St. James, a defeat would mean the Wildcats would have lost two of their final three going into the postseason. After being dominated by De La Salle 63-7 in Week 8, St. James bounced back with a 24-6 victory over Lusher. Meanwhile, a St. Charles loss would mean a two-game losing streak going into the playoffs after last week’s 28-0 loss to the Cavaliers.

“It’s a good game to have Week 10. Both of us are going to the playoffs. You don’t want to limp into the playoffs. You want to go into the playoffs with some momentum. You expect your team to be playing at a high level right now. We are in some aspects but we are not close at being a good offensive football team,” St. Charles coach Frank Monica said.

Injuries have hampered the Comets’ offensive effectiveness and the unit will face a stiff test against a rugged St. James defense when the Wildcats travel to Laplace on Friday. Quarterback Lloyd Nash has been out most of the season but did play some last at defensive back and receiver. Running back Joe Chiarella is out while fellow running back, Narquez Jones is playing with a knee brace.

“They are a senior-laden team on defense. You can tell by some of the games they pulled out; they pulled out a lot of games late. You can tell their leadership has been great all year long. They have beaten some rivalries of their own,” Monica said.

Leading the defense is Shawn Preston.

“He’s a real physical player. He makes a lot of plays. He’s around the ball. He can play pass and can play run. He’s very flexible. He’s a special athlete. I can see exactly what Mississippi State is looking at. SEC schools just don’t throw out offers liberally,” said Monica.

The St. Charles coach said another defender, Glen Brown, reminds him of Tyrann Mathieu, the former LSU Tiger and current Arizona Cardinal defensive back.

“He’s a Honey Badger-type guy. He makes a lot of plays. He’s always around the ball,” Monica said.

A formidable St. James defensive front is led by Jason Dumas.

“He’s really fast off the ball. He uses his hands. He’s an excellent pass rusher. He has a lot of ability. He’s hard to block. He turns around and he’s a heck of an offensive lineman. Their d-line is as good as anybody we’ve faced,” said Monica.

Other standouts along the defensive line include Chase Davis and Kyren Harris.

“They are based out of an even front. It’s a 4-2-5 and they will move it around,” Monica said of the St. James defense. “Sometimes they will play a stack look and sometimes they play an odd luck.

“They are well, well drilled in the secondary. They play a cover-4 scheme and they play man and play cover-3. They move it around. They will not be in the same place every time.”

The St. James offense has had injuries of its own. Demarcus Williams has missed much of the season with an injury with Shamar Smith stepping in at quarterback.

“He’s very athletic. He has running back ability and he’s getting better as the season goes on,” Monica said of Smith.

Dontaz Sterling and Sean Lebeouf are threats out of the backfield as runners and receivers.

“They run the zone and split zones with the reads. That poses a problem for you. It’s kind of like an option because they read the end. If the end doesn’t take the back, the quarterback will pull it. They are good enough to throw the ball downfield. They have speed outside,” Monica said of the St. James offense.

With De La Salle and St. James to close the regular season, the football schedule makers could have been a bit kinder to the Comets.

“I wish there was a way we could rearrange our schedules where you are not dealing with a juggernaut. They (the Wildcats) have a chance in 3A to really make some noise on the public school side. They could end up playing in the big house (Superdome),” 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.