St. Charles Catholic coach Frank Monica didn’t exactly call the Destrehan Wildcats, the fourth-ranked team in Class 5A, the 1972 Miami Dolphins, but if he did, it would have come as a surprise to no one.
Over the years, Monica has become the local guru in terms of being able to play up any opponent while lowering the expectations of his own team.
“Frank has a little flare for that with David and Goliath. He a master motivator,” Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux said.
Playing without their top offensive and defensive player a year ago, the Comets beat Destrehan 24-8 to hand the Wildcats a rare regular-season loss.
“We went over there last year, and they beat us pretty good. We are taking it just as another game. We are preparing for St. Charles just like any other team. We know they will be well-coached and that they will be disciplined and will be really good on special teams,” said Robicheaux, whose team will host the Comets on Friday.
It was special teams that sparked the Comets a year ago. Three muffed punts by the Wildcats gave St. Charles extra possessions. That, plus a keep-away offensive style the Comets are known for, limited the number of opportunities for the normally-explosive Destrehan offense.
“It’s unfortunate but that didn’t lose the game for us,” Robicheaux said of the muffed punts. “I thought the way they controlled the ball and running the football the way they did, they kept our offense off the field. Our possessions were limited, both with the muffed punts and the way they controlled the football. When we did have an opportunity, we still didn’t score. They did a great job against us last year. I definitely got out-coached and we have to do a better job this year.”
Directing the SCC offense this year is Justin Dumas. An injury to Lloyd Nash put Dumas behind center a year ahead of schedule. It was similar to the experience of Destrehan quarterback J.R. Blood, who was thrust into action as a sophomore two years ago because of an injury.
“They like to sprint him out and he does a good job throwing the football. Not only can he throw it, he can hurt you with his legs,” Robicheaux said of Dumas.
The Comets also like to run the ball quite a bit.
“The two running backs they have, Joe Chiarella and Phillip Tran, I really like. They do a good job running the football. Chiarella runs the ball really hard and Tran is more of a speed guy,” said Robicheaux.
The St. Charles offensive line, Robicheaux said, does a good job of getting a push on an opposing defense.
“I imagine they will line up like they did last year and to two tight ends and run the football. That’s where they are successful and that’s what we have to plan on stopping,” the Destrehan coach said.
When the Comets do throw it, main targets include Taylor Miller and Sutton Bourgeois. Bourgeois split time with Dumas at quarterback a year ago when Nash was injured.
When they do throw it, Taylor Miller and Sutton Bourgeois do a great job catching the football.
The leader of the Comet defense is Bryce Authement.
“It seems like Bryce Authement has been there for 20 years. He does a tremendous job at safety cleaning things up,” Robicheaux said.
Also garnering the attention of Robicheaux are St. Charles linebackers Mandel Eugene and Anderson Sirmon.
“Sirmon was a kid that was in our program, so we know a lot about him. He’s a hard-nosed kid. He’s good at reading and getting to the football,” said Robicheaux.
The standout along the defensive front, Robicheaux said, is Mason Narcisse.
Controlling the line of scrimmage will be key factor for the Wildcats on Friday night, according to Robicheaux.
“We can’t let them to continue to run the ball up the middle against us. They did a great job running power and running the wildcat quarterback last year. They ran the ball and controlled the line of scrimmage and we had trouble stopping them. For us to be successful, we have to be able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides. I think J.R. has to have time to throw the ball. If that happens, we can have a little success getting the ball downfield, which we didn’t do last year,” the Destrehan coach said.
While the Wildcats want to win Friday night, Robicheaux said they are not taking the game with a revenge mentality.
“We kind of don’t look at it as ‘payback.’ The expectations are always high here and our kids expect to win, and we didn’t do that last year,” said Robicheaux. “I think our kids are really focused and it’s a different bunch of kids. They have more of a business-type attitude. They know what we are up against. They know what happened last year. Obviously, they will come out ready to go.
“I think it being the first home game will really help us. I think that will be exciting for our kids, and hopefully, we will come out and play well.”