Facing a team blessed with size, speed and athleticism, the St. Charles Catholic Comets may have to pick and choose which Donaldsonville Tigers they will try to contain when the teams meet Friday in Laplace.
“I don’t know if you ever stop them. You just have to try to slow them down,” St. Charles coach Frank Monica said of the Tigers.
St. Charles and Donaldsonville enter the game both 5-1 on the season. The Comets, ranked sixth in Class 3A, are coming off a 45-0 blanking of Lusher in the District 10-3A opener while the Tigers were involved in a back and forth game with St. James before falling to the eighth-ranked Wildcats 26-22 in the closing minutes.
A tall order for the Comets’ defense may be to try and contain Jaylin Williams, Donaldsonville’s 6-foot-3, 190-pound quarterback.
“He’s a phenomenal quarterback. He can throw it. He can run it. He has a long stride. He can eat up some stripes in a heartbeat,” Monica said of Williams.
Williams has the luxury of choosing among experienced seniors Ladarius Jackson and Acquindas Levy, along with junior Jeffery Johnson when looking to throw the football.
“The good thing is there is only one ball to go around,” Monica said. “We don’t know which one to defend. They pose a problem for you.
“For us, the key is not so much the pitch and catch, it’s getting these guys on the ground after. They are very explosive after the catch. If you hold the completion to 10-12 yards, that’s better than letting them break a tackle and go the distance.”
Another threat for Donaldsonville is senior running back Jemon Pleasant.
“He’s an explosive runner,” Monica said. “He goes north and south and lowers his shoulders well. He’s very, very quick. In the open field, he’s very hard to bring down. He has a strong lower body. We have to get some people around him to get him on the ground.”
The Tigers feature seniors along the offensive line in Davon Wright, Kadarrion Jones and D’Ondre Fisher.
“Those guys will flip. They also will play on the defensive line. There is a lot of size and ability up there,” said Monica.
Fisher is a Tulane commitment as a defensive lineman.
“He’s up the field. It’s like he’s shot out of a cannon. He will try to maul you. He can take the game over. He’s very disruptive. The most important thing is we have to stop his penetration,” Monica said.
Leading the Donaldsonville defense is senior linebacker Tajh Brown, a Houston Cougar commitment.
“He’s a powerful guy. He just knocks people down. He plays with a lot of emotion. He gets people lined up and motivated,” Monica said.
Donaldsonville is based out of a 4-2-5 defense but will go to a 3-2 alignment.
“They just slide the front, that’s all they do,” Monica explained.
As always, playing mistake-free and ball control will be the recipe for the Comets against Donaldsonville.
“We need to stay away from the turnovers. I think that will be crucial,” Monica said. “We need to make them go the distance and not give up big plays. I think that’s one thing we learned against East Ascension is that we gave up big plays. Also, we have to be better in the red zone.
“We have to take what that team gives us. We are not going to be able to get big plays against them. We have to do our thing and make first downs. We have to stay within the chains and first downs will be huge. We try to shoot for at least four yards on first down and that puts you in an enviable situation when you do get to third down. That gives you first downs and keeps your defense fresh.”