If someone made a life-size poster of Cade Prejeant, it likely wouldn’t be the biggest one on anyone’s wall.
Still, St. Charles Catholic coach Frank Monica likely would make sure it was widely distributed.
“He’s kind of been a poster boy for SCC football,” Monica said of the Comets’ senior defensive back. “When you tell a young guy that considers himself too small, we always use Cade as a reference. ‘What do you mean you are too small, look at this guy here.’
“He’s started for three years and he’s 5-foot-7. Now he has a little girth to him but when we first started, he must have weighed 140 pounds.”
Despite his lack of size, Prejeant has managed to come up big at St. Charles.
“He’s a winner. He plays the game hard and he plays with focus. He’s a good student,” Monica said.
A pair of examples in SCC’s 24-22 Division III semifinal win over Notre Dame exemplifies just how big a contribution Prejeant has made to the Comets’ program over the years.
On several occasions, Prejeant was matched up against Luke Yuhasz, Notre Dame’s 6-foot-4, 200-pound receiver.
Yuhasz got the better of Prejeant early, but the defensive back came up big when it counted most.
“It’s a big challenge, but I love those challenges. I love being the underdog. It drives a fire in me and makes me play even harder and better,” Prejeant said.
Prejeant later came up with an important pass defense against Yuhasz and was the key defender when Notre Dame scored late and attempted a two-point conversion to force overtime.
“I kind of knew what they were doing. They all lined up bunched up so they were coming out. I knew who they were going to. They were going to (Yuhasz) all game, and I just had to make a play. I just knocked it out of his hands,” recalled Prejeant.
“There was a big play in the game when they tried to hit (Yuhasz) on the post and Cade goes and defends it,” said Wayne Stein, SCC’s defensive coordinator. “They did hit him on the first one, but again, it shows Cade’s resiliency and toughness. He didn’t pout about it or dwell on it, and the next time he had an opportunity to make a play, he made it.
“On the two-point play, they basically tried to isolate him on Cade and Cade basically batted it away to win the football game.”
Like many Comet players, Prejeant is a legacy football player at St. Charles Catholic. His dad, Drew, was a running back of note back in the day for the Comets.
There is some good-natured ribbing as to who is the best Prejeant in the household.
“We always go at it back and forth about who the best Prejeant. I also have a little brother named Dax, who is going to be at SCC next year, and he’s always in the conversation, too. It’s always a joke, but I know my dad never won state in football. When I bring the ring home Monday, we will talk about that, too,” said Cade, with a big grin across his face.
Prejeant and his fellow seniors will be playing in the state championship game for the third time in five years. He can bring the title ring home if the Comets defeat three-time defending champion Lafayette Christian when the teams meet at 3 p.m. Monday in the Division III finals in Natchitoches.
“He’s dad was a phenomenal athlete at St. Charles. He played running back. He was a hell of a center field and he went on to play college baseball. He was small in stature but very athletic. Cade has lived up to the legacy of what he’s dad had done, and maybe surpassed that in a lot of ways, when you talk about the success of his teams and what he’s been a part of. This eighth-grade class, most of these seniors came in eighth grade and this is their third opportunity to play for a championship,” Stein said.
Like his dad, Cade also plays on the SCC baseball team. He was a sophomore when the Comets won the state title in that sport.
Regardless of the sport, Prejeant has epitomized what it means to be a Comet.
“Next to Mandel (Eugene, who recently signed with Tulane), he’s one of those heart-and-soul guys,” Stein said. “He’s been on the field for us since he has been a sophomore. It’s no mistake that he’s had success as a senior. Every year, his role has kind of increased. He went from kind of being a nickel back to last year to being one of the main safeties, to this year being the leader of the back end.
“A kid of his stature and expectations, he’s lived up to all of it and probably exceeded everybody’s expectations. When you look at him, sometimes you judge him at what you see at 5-foot-7, but he plays so much bigger than that.”
Prejeant defied the odds earlier this season is a matter much more significant that football.
One day after practice, Prejeant went to his grandparents’ home to mow their lawn. On the way back, he was involved in an automobile accident.
“I was in a bad, bad wreck. I really should have died. You give thanks to God for even being here and making it out alive,” said Prejeant.
It looked like his senior season in football, after missing all of his junior baseball season because of the coronavirus, might be coming to a premature end.
“It sucked I couldn’t play versus De La Salle because I was really looking forward to that game. It was probably, if not the biggest games of the year. I was just happy to make it out of that wreck alive. The game was just like an afterthought after the wreck,” Prejeant said.
Prejeant missed the De La Salle game as he was being monitored for a possible concussion. A week later, he was back playing football.
“My face was kind of all messed up,” said Prejeant. “I couldn’t even put a mouthpiece in.
“It’s kind of a joke, but I just say Neosporin. I just put Neosporin on my face, and it healed up in a week and I was ready to go.”
“I think it put into perspective that we were blessed that he was OK. Everybody kind of got a perspective of what’s important. He has been ripping and running and playing his butt off ever since – not that he wasn’t before – but it put everybody’s mind that this could be taken away from you at any moment between something like that and coronavirus and to make the most of it,” said Stein.
The ultimate making-the-most-of-it, would be closing out his career with a state championship.
“Ending it with a ring, that would be insane. It’s what we have been working for the last five years – our whole lives, really.”