It has always been a hallmark of success for the St. Charles Catholic football team to be practicing for Thanksgiving.
The success has continued at St. Charles yet again, but as with everything else in the crazy, mixed up year of 2020, the Comets’ plans have been altered.
Instead of getting ready for the Division III finals for Thanksgiving, the Comets are preparing for the state championship game the week of Christmas.
“It just feels good to know that you are still playing and one of the few schools still practicing this time of year. These juniors and sophomores on this team have gotten a lot of extra practice. As we tell our seniors, you are going to put that helmet on for a few more days and then it’s over for you. Let’s enjoy this. I want to make sure that we play our best football in the game against Lafayette Christian, which is what it will take to win. Anything less than that, we won’t win,” St. Charles coach Frank Monica said.
The Comets are preparing to take on Lafayette Christian, the team that defeated St. Charles a year ago in the title game 41-14. The Division III championship is set for 3 p.m. Monday at Turpin Stadium on the Northwestern State University campus in Natchitoches.
“I don’t think we even practiced Thanksgiving (Day) because we had a bye. This Christmas Eve practice kind of takes its place and it’s even more special because it is state championship week and not semifinal week or quarterfinal week,” said Cade Prejeant, a senior strong safety for the Comets.
Prejeant’s fellow seniors share his sentiments.
“It will be a tough week of practice during Christmas because a lot of things are going on. It’s the holidays but everybody has to try and stay focused and not worry about Christmas too much and get focused on Lafayette Christian,” said Kamren Campbell, a fellow defender.
“It’s always a goal to go to the state championship and uphold the legacy here. Practicing at Christmas is a special feeling, but you still have to get the job done,” receiver Kendell Harris said.
Having had a year to reflect on last year’s championship game, the Comets have had a long time to analyze why they lost a year ago.
“We came out flat and we stayed flat. We put them (the Knights) on a pedestal for a while. I’m not saying they aren’t still a very good team, but we just have to play our game,” said Campbell.
“We came out dry. We didn’t have any juice,” Harris said. “Some people weren’t ready to play and their heads weren’t in the game. We weren’t just focused on playing Lafayette Christian. We were focused on other things. This year, we just got to stay focused and keep our heads straight and go ahead and hit them.”
“We just didn’t play good at state,” said Prejeant. “We should have held them on third downs and contain them more and not give up big plays like we did. We didn’t play well. We didn’t execute the game plan.
“Last year we also were underdogs. We knew they were really good, but we know they are human. We just have to stick to our plan. We don’t have to do anything special. We just have to stick to the plan, and we will be fine.”
Prejeant, Campbell and Harris are part of what was an eighth-grade class that will be playing in the state championship for third time in five years.
Along with last year’s game against Lafayette Christian, the Comets lost to Riverside Academy in the 2016 finals.
“From all 21 of us, we are a great group of guys. We are always hard-working guys trying to lift up the team. Some of us may not be as vocal but we do try to set an example with our practice and play,” said Campbell.
What would allow this senior class to close it all out with a state championship?
“It will be because of all the hard work we put in at practice, sticking to our assignments and playing for each other, and playing for our brothers and sticking together as a team. If we win, it will be because of the team. They have more talent than us. They have way more talent, we know that, but if we play as a team, we will be fine,” Prejeant said.