If St. Charles Catholic seems to have playing on Thursday nights down pat, it’s because the Comets have a lot of experience at it.
Because of expected inclement weather in the area on Friday night, St. Charles’ game against Newman in Laplace has been moved up to Thursday.
It’s marks the third week in a row SCC has played on a Thursday.
Two weeks ago, the Comets’ game with Port Gibson, Mississippi, was moved up a day because of anticipated bad weather. SCC’s game last week at Franklinton was played on Thursday because of a fair going on in the area.
The Thursday game in not the only unusual favor in the game between the Greenies and Comets. The teams find themselves playing their district opener in Week 8 of the season.
Newman (7-0) enters the game ranked No. 1 in Class 2A and is second in the unofficial power rankings in Division III. St. Charles (6-1) is ranked No. 4 and is No. 4 in the power rankings.
“The game has a lot of implications as far as power rankings,” St. Charles coach Frank Monica said. “It’s also not just about a district-championship matchup but it’s also for to see exactly who will get a bye (in the opening round of the playoffs) and who’s not going to get a bye.
“There are a lot of reasons for this game to be built up but I told the kids we are not going to be all our eggs in one basket and sell out for one game. There is more football ahead of us, even after this ball game.”
The game will be live streamed on VSN Louisiana on Thursday. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.
With only four teams playing for league honors in District 11-2A, district play consists of only three games to close out the regular season. The one benefit for St. Charles of the district schedule – even a small one – is a bit more regularity after playing so many games early in the year on the road and having a pair of Thursday night affairs on the road.
“Our regimentation and our routine have been way out of whack all year long with the stadium and having to move ball games,” said Monica. “We haven’t been in any kind of routine. These last three games, hopefully, we can get in some kind of routine and be a little bit more on schedule.
“I think the team realizes this is a big game for the community but the bottom line is it’s just another game for us. Who knows? We might face these guys again in a few weeks.”
Most observers see a distinct contrast in styles between the teams.
Newman features a quick-strike, high-scoring offense.
St. Charles uses strong defense and a ball-control offense to keep opponents from scoring while also enjoying favorable field position.
The numbers would seem to bear that out.
Newman is averaging 39.71 points per game. The St. Charles defense is allowing 9.57 points per outing.
Other numbers, however, paint a bit of an eye-opening picture.
Newman’s defense is allowing only 12.85 points per game while the St. Charles offense is putting up an average of 26.42 points per game.
“The game plan for us is to make sure our offense controls the line of scrimmage. Last week (in a 35-6 win over Franklinton), time of possession made the difference in the game because we were on the field a lot. We had a lot of snaps and had 20-something minutes on the field. That always helps the defense out when they are on the sideline. When they do play, they are fresh,” said Monica.
One of the main guys the Comets will try to keep the ball away from is Arch Manning. The freshman quarterback is coming off a game in which he passed for five touchdowns and rushed for another in a 48-21 win over Riverside.
“Mechanically, he’s very, very sound,” Monica said of Manning. “He gets the ball out of his hands. He takes care of the ball. He’s not sloppy with it.”
When Manning is looking for a big play in the passing game, his favorite target is senior receiver Jarmone Sutherland.
“He probably may be the best receiver we’ve faced all year long. He’s quick. He’s hard to jam. He gets off the line and he has explosive, explosive speed. He has phenomenal hands. Whenever they need a big play, they don’t have to look anywhere else,” said Monica.
When looking to run the ball, the Greenies generally put it in the hands of capable Joseph Pleasant junior running back Joseph Pleasant.
“He’s a downhill runner,” Monica said of Pleasant. “He has strong, strong legs. He always falls forward. They will try to get inside the chains as much as they possibly can.”
The Newman defense is led by 6-foot-3, 220-pound Brandon Williams, a Virginia commitment.
“He’s very fast. They move him around. It’s not like, ‘he’s going to play here, he’s going to play here.’ He’s played inside. He’s played outside. You have to be aware of where he is because he’s so quick. On pass protection, he will come off you and he’s tall and has long, long arms and you can see he will be a heck of a college football player. We have to put a hat on him, maybe two,” Monica said.
Another top defender up front is 6-foot-3, 180 pound Jacob Pettiford.
“They play with a nose guard, sometimes they don’t. They do a lot of blitzing. They will bring the linebackers up a lot. They do a lot of twists and fronts up front. They will keep you guessing,” Monica said.
Among the linebackers are Wade Politz and Will Hardie.
“The two inside linebackers are very, very good players. They make most of their tackles,” Monica pointed out.
The Comets have quietly topped 30 points in scoring this season and it may take that type of production to topple Newman on Thursday, according to Monica.
“We will take the field goal but I don’t think field goals will win it because they (the Greenies) are a big-play offense. They can make that up in a heartbeat,” the St. Charles coach said.
Click below for the link to the game that is set to begin on Thursday, October 24 at 6 p.m.