Comets, coach face nationally ranked Curtis… again
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 6, 2006
By JOHNNY PEPPO
Coach Frank Monica knows all about uphill battles.
Monica and his St. Charles Comet football squad has played quite possibly the best team in the country more times than any other team has had to in the last two years. Grouped into district 10-2A with the John Curtis Patriots, the Comets have seen them twice during the regular season since November 2005 and twice in the state championship after this Friday’s title game in the Superdome.
That’s a tall order for any small school, but especially so for one lost some 20-plus seniors to graduation last year.
“We know who we’re going up against,” said Monica. “And we know who we’ve got. These kids surprised a lot of people who didn’t think that they had the tools to play at the level that they’ve played. So they’ve responded and made us all proud here at the school and on this coaching staff and in this community. There’s one more game left to get through now and we know all about those guys over there (Curtis). But we’re going to try to do what we do best. With a real team effort, our guys can do a lot more than they can do alone so we’ll avoid the mismatches as best we can. You’ve just got to go and do the best you can against a team like that. The ball just might bounce our way the one time that we need it.”
It’s been rough going for all who’ve tried their hand at the Patriots in the last couple of years, if not the latter half of the 20th century. Curtis is one of the most storied football programs in a football-hungry state and is led by the son of the late John Curtis himself. This year, the Patriots have caught national attention with an undefeated season and a victory over a Hoover, Alabama program that was considered the best in the country. The only team that came anywhere close to containing the Patriots attack was fellow 10-2A foe St. James. And the Comets did away with them last Friday.
So all that’s left is the final game of the official ’06 season. This Friday in the Superdome, the first trip to the Dome for St. Charles, the Comets will try their hand again at containing one of the best collegiate prospects in the nation in Joe McKnight. The SCC defense has been one of the stingiest in the state this year, allowing less than ten points per contest through this season’s schedule. And that’s averaging in the 40 points given up to the Patriots in their regular season meeting earlier this year, the only game of the regular season in which the Comets allowed more than one score.
Unfortunately in that same game, SCC’s offense was held scoreless through the entire four periods of play. But their defense did hold the Patriots to 14 points in the first half. So if St. Charles’ offense could manage to put some points on the board early on somehow, the Comets could find themselves within reach come the third quarter.
“They’re some of the best players that you can find on the football field at this level,” said Monica of the John Curtis Patriots. “But they put on their pants the same way we do. They have to strap on their pads and helmets the same as everybody. So we’ll see what happens.”