The St. Charles Catholic Comets have long taken pride in their special teams play.
The Comets came away with a 17-0 win a week ago over Class 5A East Ascension despite numerous mishaps by the normally proficient unit.
“Our special teams stunk,” Monica declared. “It’s the worst we’ve had since we’ve been here in all phases. We are normally pretty good on special teams.
“We had a blocked punt because we relaxed. We jumped on the ball, but we gave up a lot of field position. The three-man shield relaxed on the thing. We were fighting bad field position the whole night because of it. We had a bad punting average. The snaps were erratic. Our kickoff coverage was soft.”
Still, the Comets found a way to win.
“We were resilient. The kids kept battling. We made a lot, a lot, of mistakes. There is so much to correct. We didn’t know where to start Saturday morning.
“They were a big, physical, powerful football team that we didn’t match up well with. They knocked us around pretty good. We were fortunate to come out with a victory.”
Now, the Comets, 3-0 and ranked No. 5 in Class 2A, have turned their attention to their game with De La Salle at 7 p.m. Friday at West Jefferson’s Hoss Memtas Stadium in Harvey. The Cavaliers also are 3-0 and ranked No. 1 in Class 3A.
“It’s another game with bad matchups,” said Monica.
It’s also another road game for the Comets.
“It’s our third week in a row on the road. We’ve just got to get better. This is so much room for improvement, and hopefully, once we get to 2A competition, we will have seen the best, but we are still making some elementary mistakes,” Monica said.
De La Salle is coming off a 49-13 win over Lakeshore in which the Cavaliers amassed 609 yards of total offense.
The Cavalier offense has been in control so much to open the season that their punter has a well-rested leg.
“They’ve only punted six times in three games. The punter may not letter this year,” Monica quipped.
De La Salle has a pair of Arizona Wildcat commitments, including running back Montrell Johnson.
“He’s a Leonard Fournette-type back. He’s big, powerful, and hard to get down. If he gets in the secondary, he is going to create havoc. If he gets past the line of scrimmage, we are in real trouble,” said Monica, comparing Johnson to the former LSU and current NFL runner.
Another runner is speedy Byron Philips.
“They have a hell of a one-two punch when it comes to that,” Monica said.
The Cavaliers run a bit out of the spread offense, but are more of a power-running game, according to Monica.
“Their scheme on offense makes a lot of sense. They don’t run a lot of plays, but what they do is very effective. They will get a hat on a hat and they will block you. You really have to be tough in the trenches because if they get in the secondary, we can’t catch them,” the St. Charles coach said.
De La Salle quarterback Cole Milford has a number of targets at his disposal, including Nixon Bernard, Makhi Paris, and Kentrell Mollette.
“What do you try to take away? We’ve got to try to slow down their run. If we don’t slow down their run, it’s going to be a long night,” said Monica.
The Arizona commitment on the defensive side for De La Salle is defensive lineman Jamarain Peterson.
“He’s a special cat. He’s a big, strong guy,” Monica said.
Joining Peterson along the defensive line are Kenneth Jackson, Dwane Tillis and Tyler Lauland.
Shamar Keelen is a standout at outside linebacker, while another top defender, free safety Deante LeBranch, roams the secondary.
If the Comets are to come out of Friday’s encounter still unbeaten, it will be because they eliminated the mistakes they committed against East Ascension, according to Monica.
“We can’t turn over the ball like we did last week. We had three turnovers. We tried to make some plays that weren’t there. We have to be more consistent on offense. We have to mix it up running and passing, which we didn’t do well at all last week. We got behind the chains too much. We were not in sync on offense,” the St. Charles coach said.