St. Charles Catholic is not accustomed to being under .500 through the first five weeks of the season.
“Right now, we don’t have much room for error. We need to get better at playing Comet football and it’s been almost 20 years since we’ve been 2-3,” St. Charles coach Frank Monica said.
St. Charles fell to 2-3 with a 21-2 loss to East Ascension in a game in which the Comets averaged just 2.6 yards per play, converted on only two of 12 third-down attempts and were unable to take advantage of favorable field positioned generated by the SCC defense.
“We had a lot of shots,” Monica said. “What is odd is our first-down efficiency was pretty good. I never (would have) thought that against this team. The third down came back to bite us in the butt. On fourth down, we had a couple of times we didn’t convert, which I was real disappointed in.”
The Comets can reach the .500 mark with a win Friday night over visiting Lusher in the District 10-3A opener.
“You are rebooting your season,” Monica said of the start of district play. “Also, as I told the kids, even though our record right now is not good and we have got to improve ourselves, we had to accelerate our offensive and defensive game plans just to be able to compete with some people and we haven’t done it very well.
“Because of that, I think you grow and benefit from that as long as you stay healthy going through that tough period.”
Along with the East Ascension game, the Comets’ other losses have come to the likes of Destrehan and Country Day. Despite the losing record, the level of tough competition has garnered SCC the No. 2 power ranking among Division II schools.
The level of competition, at least in terms of roster size, changes with the start of district play.
“What district does, at least you know that you are getting people are close to your level,” Monica explained. “They have good players and fast players, but you are classified by numbers so that’s where that comes from.
“We use (the pre-district slate) as the training experience but now it’s time for us from here to smooth out and get into a rhythm. Right now, our team is not been in any rhythm.”
The Comets seek to pick up their rhythm when they host Lusher to open district play. The Lions are 1-4 overall, including 1-0 in league play after a whopping 52-0 loss to Newman.
Lusher went into the game without perhaps its best offensive player in running back Miles Stewart.
“I think he was held out of that game but I’m pretty sure he will be ready because I understand it was just a muscle (ailment),” Monica said.
The Lusher quarterback is sophomore Arnold Little.
“He has a long stroke but he has a big arm. He can throw the ball deep,” Monica said of Little.
A top threat for the Lions is Chad Britton.
“He’s a real, real good receiver and he’s a specialist on punt returns,” Monica noted.
The Lions, Monica said, like to run out of the I-formation.
“They run the isolation and come downhill with that running back (Stewart). Sometimes they will break that and will do a little spread stuff but that’s not their thing. Their thing is all about him. Their offense is based around their running back. We have to put a lot of emphasis on him and put more people around him. He’s fast and he can break tackles,” the St. Charles coach explained.
Defensively, the Lions line up in both an even- and odd-man front.
“Their best player on defense is Chandler Jones. He’s very good inside. They move him around a lot, too,” Monica said.
Other top Lusher defenders include linemen Joey August and Sidney Cazeno, along with linebacker Will Sternbergh.
For St. Charles, Friday’s game is more about the Comets than the Lions,” according to Monica.
“It’s all about us getting back to basics and going back to more downhill running, which we haven’t done enough. Our goal is to get a back that can rush for 100 yards, but we haven’t done that. We need to make our short throws. We haven’t done that. We need to tackle better in space. We think our front seven has done a decent job of not getting pushed around but we need to tackle better on the perimeter. Like all teams, we need to prevent big plays,” the St. Charles coach said.