Facing a winless Haynes Academy team on Friday night at Joe Yenni Stadium in Metairie gives the St. Charles Comets a chance to return to basics.
“It’s a great week for us to get back to our fundamentals. The last couple of weeks we kind of voided our fundamentals just to try and get people lined up to stop or make plays. Now, it’s a good week for us to get back to our fundamentals and worry more about the Comets than our opponents,” St. Charles coach Frank Monica said.
Despite a 6-1 start, including a 2-0 mark in District 10-3A and being ranked No. 6 in the state, the Comets have had a lot to worry about in 2017.
Most of the worries have been a plethora of injuries that have hit the Comets like no other season in memory. Instead of adding to the list of walking wounded as has been the pattern in 2017, St. Charles got a boost last week with the return of running back Narquez Jones.
“We had a big lift from Narquez Jones. He came back and played with a knee brace on and decided not to have surgery. He gave us a little inside presence,” said Monica.
Jones rushed for 76 yards on 10 carries and scored two touchdowns in the Comets’ 35-12 victory last week over Donaldsonville. It was Jones’ first action since he suffered a knee injury in a Week 3 win over Wilkerson County.
The Comets are still without injured starting quarterback Lloyd Nash. One of Nash’s understudies, Sutton Bourgeois, was banged up last week ago but St. Charles had some offensive success using Trey Joseph in the wildcat position.
Haynes goes into Friday’s game 0-7 overall, including 0-2 in district, and is coming off a 54-0 loss to St. James.
“They are limited in terms of their numbers. They dress out about 30 kids. A lot of the same kids have to turn around and play on the other side of the ball. That’s an advantage we have,” said Monica.
The Yellow Jackets’ top offensive player is quarterback Zachary Bott, Monica said.
“He can do some play-action stuff and they like what we call the ‘naked’ plays, the bootlegs and stuff and dumping the ball off in the flat,” the St. Charles coach said.
The other top player on offense for Haynes is running back Gavin Burns.
“He likes to go downhill but he runs the stretch because that is what they do. It’s a play you have to fit your defense correctly. Everybody sort of has a fit as far as a gap is concerned and if overstretch it, they will go inside and if you don’t stretch it, they will go outside. We are familiar with it because that’ what we do,” Monica explained.
The Yellow Jackets utilize two tight ends in Darnell Johnson and Joshua Christoffersen.
“They are good players. Those same guys also turn around and help on the defensive side of the ball,” Monica noted.
The Yellow Jackets like to run inside and outside zone and stretch plays.
“They are real good at that. Their execution is good in the backfield,” Monica said.
The Yellow Jackets employ mostly a five-man front on defense, with many of the same players on offense also having to start on defense.
“They do play some even front and they will drop the end, depending on what they are seeing. The one-back people, that’s what they are doing. They are basically a cover-3 and try to play a little man. They don’t try to be fancy. They just try to get their kids in position,” Monica explained.
The Comets expanded their playbook to compete with the likes of Chalmette, Destrehan, East Ascension and Donaldsonville. Facing a team like Haynes, St. Charles has the opportunity to return to its roots.
“This is a good week for us since it’s more of a base team, for us to come back and do the things we practiced all camp and get back to that and simplify things and make it better. Even though you explore some other things on offense and defense you always like to come back to base because that’s what kids know. When you get to far away from it, that’s when you get in trouble,” Monica said.