Inexperience at several key positions on offense likely will cause the St. Charles Catholic Comets to rely on the defense in 2018.
“If I find that our offense is really inept I will just play the game to our defense,” said St. Charles coach Frank Monica, whose team was 9-3 a year ago. “I am not going to try and put a round peg in a square hole is we are not capable of doing things. I will say, ‘let’s just take care of the ball and play field position and try to win some low-scoring games.’ That’s not what I like to do but I would rather have a better offense where we can pull away from people if we get ahead. We might not have the personnel to do that.”
The defense is led up front by Mason Narcisse, a college prospect. He is joined on the defensive line by Eli Ory at defensive end and Jordan Brown at nose guard. Aaron Johnson is the other defensive tackle.
One of the linebackers is sophomore Mandel Eugene.
“We are real high on his future,” Monica noted.
Also at linebacker is Anderson Sirmon, another sophomore.
Bryce Authement anchors the secondary at free safety. He is joined by Luke Brouwer and a pair of young cornerbacks in Nick Lorio and Kameron Campbell. Several players on offense also are likely to see action in the secondary.
Cade Pregeant is the nickel back.
“He’s not big, but he’s like our Honey Badger guy. He always seems to be around the ball.” Monica said, comparing Prejeant to Tyrann Mathieu, the former LSU and current NFL defender.
The Comets defense has little bit more size but not quite as much speed as in the recent past.
“Before, we relied on a little bit more quickness. I think we have a little bit more size in the interior of the line,” Monica pointed out.
Monica, who first became a high school head coach in the late 1970s has seen the game evolve and change over the years.
“The game now is more of a perimeter game than the inside because of the insertion of the speed sweep and also all the screens people are throwing. It’s become like basketball on grass. You have to have a defense that can run,” the Comets coach said.
The St. Charles offense is young. Jason Dumas takes over as the fulltime starter at quarter after filling in for an injury and since-graduated Lloyd Nash.
Dumas was out of action until Week 3 a year ago due to injury woes of his own.
“He and Sutton Bourgeois shared that role until Lloyd came back in Week 9. He’s a smart, articulate kid and he has gotten better. In the spring he wasn’t really confident, and his anticipation skills weren’t really there but with all the 7-on-7 we did and the fall camp, he’s gotten a lot a lot better. He still needs to improve on getting the ball out of his hands a little bit faster, the timing of it, and his progressions. As far as handling the offense, he knows it. He knows where people belong, is a smart kid and wants to be good,” Monica said of Dumas.
The Comets have experience at running back with senior Joe Chiarella and Phillip Tran.
Both are on the small side. The size in the backfield a year ago came in the form of fullback Narquez Jones, who has since graduated.
“Narquez Jones was like 190 and we are dropping down to one guy (Chiarella) being 170 and the other (Tran) is 160, if he’s 160. They both are tough guys and they both can catch the ball out of the backfield and they are smart. I think they will complement each other from that standpoint,” said Monica.
At fullbacks this season will be Trey Lowry and Logan Forsythe when he’s not playing the H-back position.
One of the new receivers who has a bit of experience is senior Taylor Miller. Bourgeois is on the outside along with Cameron Fabre. Also in the mix is sophomore Kendall Harris.
“I think we will have a taller group, but we still don’t have that great speed. Every one is basically what I consider a possession receiver. That’s OK, as long as they are in the right spot,” said Monica.
Jake Ganote will be a tight end along with Forsythe.
“Jake Ganote is the guy that is playing it right now and he has to grow up quickly. He’s a little undersized to play it but he’s a tough guy. I think he will hit you and strike you but he’s 180. He’s not a heavy guy at all,” Monica said.
The Comets return three starters to the offensive line in junior Evan Roussel and a pair of seniors, Josh Carter and Grant Vicknair.
Roussel is the right tackle while Carter is the left guard and Vicknair is the center. Matt Accardo is the right guard and Nathan Guillory is the right tackle.
George Louper is behind Guillory at tackle while Joey Hebert provides depth at both center and guard.
Fabre will handle kicking and punting dues for the Comets. Lorio also is working at punter.
Carter Chauvin, a ninth grader, also could get a chance to do a bit of the kicking.
“He doesn’t have a lot of leg strength but he’s very accurate. He might be our (extra point) guy,” noted Monica.
SCC’s pre-district schedule includes Chalmette, Destrehan, Country Day and East Ascension. Wilkinson County of Mississippi also will visit Laplace this season.
The district schedule has the Comets playing on the road against fellow contenders Donaldsonville, De La Salle and St. James. SCC plays Donaldsonville in Week 7 after opening league play a week earlier when hosting Lusher. The De La Salle game will be played at Tulane’s Yulman Field in Week 9 before the Comets visit St. James to close out the regular season.
Monica has never been one to put a number of wins for his team as a goal and 2018 is no exception.
“My goal is to say that by the time we get to Game 10, what type of football team are we going to be? Are we going to look back and say, ‘I wish I had this one back,’ or ‘we won some close games and developed some depth and confidence’ or will we see the same team I saw Week 1.”