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St. Charles’ task against Destrehan even tougher with loss of Nash

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  • George Becnel
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  • September 05, 2017 - 5:41am

Photos by Sean McDonaldFrank Monica picked up win No. 250 as a high school head coach with St. Charles Catholic's 29-0 victory over Chalmette last Friday night.

The best defense St. Charles Catholic for its game last week against Chalmette’s Wing-T offense was simply to keep the ball away from the Owls.

St. Charles held onto the ball for 16:02 in the first half and went on to amass 408 yards, including 345 yards rushing, in take a 29-0 season-opening road victory.

“I was proud of the offensive line because they knew when Lloyd Nash went down that they had to kind of take over the game because we weren’t going to throw it a lot,” St. Charles coach Frank Monica said.

The Comets lost their senior quarterback when he suffered a fractured clavicle. The Nicholls commitment is expected to miss at least six weeks after undergoing surgery.

Nash’s injury put a damper on what was Monica’s 250th win as a high school coach.

“No. 1, all that means is you are old,” said Monica. “No. 2, it’s a tribute to the players and coaches that have all worked for me and played for me. It’s their milestone.

“It was hard to enjoy. After losing Dellary Oubre and Lloyd Nash within a one-week span, that really was a big deal. We had Jared Babesh that we lost in camp so that’s three defensive starters we don’t have playing for us.”

Oubre is suffering from a knee injury and is out for an undetermined amount of time, according to Monica.

Replacing Nash a quarterback is junior Sutton Bourgeois.

“I think Sutton Bourgeois is capable of throwing the ball. We moved him there at camp because we were hoping to get Justin Dumas back because he was injured in the spring game and we moved (Bourgeois) as a precaution and he ended up being the quarterback to go in after Lloyd,” said Monica.

Dumas, who has been out with an ankle injury, is back at practice and could be an option for the Comets at quarterback.

“It depends on his development this week. That’s up in the air,” Monica said of Dumas’ chances of seeing action at quarterback Friday night when the Comets host Destehan.

Regardless of who might play quarterback in Nash’s absence, the Comets will not be cutting back on playbooks, according to Monica.

“We can’t scale back,” the St. Charles coach said. “We have to go from there. Even though we make some mistakes, we have to go from there. When you run against a team like Destrehan, we can’t climb in a shell with our offense. The most important thing is we have to move forward.”

Stephen Robichaux’s Destrehan squad represents a tough foe moving forward for the ailing Comets. The Wildcats are coming off a 42-18 season-opening win over Slidell.

“We thought in Game Two we would be a healthier team than we are now. That’s the nature of this game. We’ve never had injuries like that. We’ve had nagging things that keep a guy out a week or two but not for this length of time.

Highly-touted junior running back John Emery is coming off a 154-yard rushing effort while also adding a touchdown reception.

“He’s incredible on tape,” Monica said of Emory. “I think if Coach Robicheaux lets me play 15, I think we might be able to get some people around him. When he carries the ball, I might people on the sideline trying to tackle him.”

The Wildcats spread the carries around last Friday with Kyle Edwards and Ed’Juan Green also having productive outings.

“They all have speed and quickness. Emery is a bigger guy and he has a combination of speed and power. They get him in space and he’s hard to tackle. The bottom line is to get people around him and hopefully we can slow him down a little bit,” said Monica.

J.R. Blood was expected to be a first-year starter in 2017 but with midseason injuries to Kohen Granier last year, Blood gained valuable and meaningful playing time.

“He can run but when you have those types of running backs, you don’t have to. He’s an excellent thrower. He can throw the vertical routes and he can throw the seam routes very well. He has a pretty good grasp of the offense. He’s tall so he can see over our line,” said Monica while evaluating Blood.

Destrehan has lost numerous quality receivers who have gone on to big-time college programs. The Wildcats are a bit more inexperienced at the position but the receiving corps is in good hands with the likes of C. B. Anderson, Quincy Brown and Quinton Torbor.

“It’s amazing their receiving corps and their skill level. You look at them on film and even third second- and third-team quarterbacks are athletes. They are not devoid of any type of skill,” Monica said.

The Comets will have to play top-notch defense if they are to cope with Destrehan’s explosive offense, according to Monica.

“I know they are going to score their points and we just have to be sound on defense. If they beat us with execution, they are going to beat us anyway. Make them beat us with execution and not mistakes,” he said.

Defensively, the Wildcats are based out of an odd-man front.

“They are very sound and technique conscious. Their linebackers read extremely well and their linemen will play with their hands and stay down and they will read. They will mix it up quite a bit. They are not just one look. They will mix it up just enough to give you trouble,” Monica said.

Up front, the Wildcats are not as big as in the recent past but still plenty big enough as far as Monica is concerned.

“They might not be big by their standards but they average 250 across the front. Their nose guard, Jabriel Fields, is 6-2, 250; their right tackle, Jyi Teague, is 6-4, 250; and Jeremiah Murphy is 6-1, 245,” Monica pointed out.

Other top Wildcat players among the front seven include Aaron Buckwalter and Noah Tiliancich.

One of Destrehan’s top defenders is Macon Clark.

“They use him as a drop strong safety type. They use him in a lot of different places. He plays with a lot of leverage and he plays all out every snap,” said Monica.

Destrehan’s cornerbacks are Dontrell Smith and Jalen Smothers.

“They are excellent,” Monica said of the duo. “It’s not like we are going to throw the deep ball and run by those guys.”

Playing a perennial power like Destrehan is always a formidable task and it becomes even more difficult having to go into the game without the Comets’ top offensive player in Nash and leading defender in Oubre, according to Monica.

“I would feel a lot better if we had those guys. It would still be an uphill battle. We don’t have them. It’s been a long time since I can remember us being in this type of situation and looking down the gun barrel,” said Monica.

Unlike last week, at least the Comets now have firm footing on the practice field.

“We need to get better, regardless of the competition. We didn’t get much field work last week and we were rusty. We didn’t have proper conditioning last week. We either got rain or with the soggy conditions, we weren’t able to practice. To try and get better in your parking lot, it will always be remembered as The Parking Lot week,” 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.