Comet defense slows Curtis early, but SCC takes runner-up again
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 13, 2006
By JOHNNY PEPPO
NEW ORLEANS — There was a moment where St. Charles looked like they had a shot at doing the impossible in the 2A state championship game last Friday night after Corey Reed picked off a pass and returned it 52 yards to tie the score at 7-7.
And with their fans in a frenzy and in a little bit of a rhythm after completing a handful of first quarter passes, the Comets had the momentum as the first quarter was coming to an end.
But John Curtis brought an end to any speculation of an upset soon after that, taking a 15 point lead into halftime and an eventual 41-7 victory for their 21st school title.
“We know who they are,” said St. Charles head coach Frank Monica. “They’ve got the best players and they’ve got the best coaches. They practice well, they do everything well. And we just couldn’t find any weakness on them. But our guys played a heck of a game against them. I’m just glad they won’t have to next year.”
And that may just be the best thing to come out of the game for St. Charles fans last Friday, as it marked the end of this season with the Comets resuming playing in Class 3A for at least the next two years with redistricting.
So in the final meeting between these two teams last Friday, it was no surprise for Comet fans when Curtis won the toss. Chris Ilski kicked off and the SCC return team limited the gain of Joe McKnight, which the defense would also do for most of the game. St. Charles forced a third down on the drive after Curtis tried to run up the middle of the field. Garrett Biven and Steven Graver converged on the Patriot’s David Seeman to put Curtis at 3-and-2.
But the Patriots picked up the first on a tough three-yard pickup by Seeman and continued to hand-off the ball on thier way to a 7-0 lead.
St. Charles got the ball for the first time of the game with 9:19 in the first, and looked to pass after Curtis stacked their defensive line. Quarterback Philip Sutton threw for 15 yards and a first down when he hit Chase Fletcher on a rollout that got them nearly into field goal range, but the Patriot’s defensive line picked up the pressure and started batting down Sutton’s passes to force a Comet fourth-and-out.
That gave the ball back to Curtis, who moved the ball 17 yards to just past mid-field. That’s when the Patriot quarterback dropped back to pass, but overthrew his receiver and gave Reed his touchdown return.
Curtis acted quick to stifle the celebration, as the Patriots seemed to be getting things going with 2:26 left in the opening period. From there, they began a quick, seven-play, 80-yard drive that finished with a 16-yard scamper by Collura. And with 1:15 left, SCC got the ball back.
Jonathan Cancienne took the return back to the Comet 28-yard line where SCC quarterback Vincent Rollo took over. Rollo fared much the same though and SCC went 3-and-out.
The St. Charles defense made a stand on this drive as they trailed by seven, stuffing the Curtis runners at the line of scrimmage. An illegal block on the Patriots pushed them back to the Comet’s 34-yard line and SCC forced two incompletions and took over on downs.
St. Charles just wasn’t able to get anything going against the Curtis defensive line and turned the ball back over after less than two minutes.
Again, the Comet defense stuffed the run and the pass to force Curtis into a pair of third downs, the second of which ended in a punt to give SCC the ball back.
So with just more than two minutes left in the first half of play, the Comets trailed 14-7. The offense couldn’t convert and sent the ball back to Curtis, who came out of their funk with a 64-yard drive that Joe McKnight finished with a 26-yard TD rush, his longest run of the night. SCC looked to have the extra point sniffed out, but, with Collura placing the attempt, the quarterback picked up the ball and found Blake Brister in the end zone.
That brought it into the break with a 22-7 Curtis lead.
It was all Curtis after the break as the Comets could manage just one first down in the third quarter, which came on a pass interference call against Chase Fletcher. The highlight of the period was a blocked extra point attempt, as Reed came through the Patriot defense to knock down the attempt to make it 28-7.
The Patriots scored again before the fourth quarter would start, this one on a 68-yard drive that ended in a Collura pass to Shae Smith.
Things eased up in the fourth quarter as SCC began to move the ball for a bit, until McKight picked off a Rollo pass to give the Patriots their eleventh possession of the game. They got the ball inside the Comets red zone, but SCC’s Corey Crowder came up with a fumble recovery with 3:43 left to play.
That’s how it would end as Curtis took the final seconds off of the clock with runs three runs of two yards each.
“Looking back at the beginning of the year, nobody expected this from us,” said Monica. “We lost so many guys and we give up so much in size to a lot of teams. But these guys really showed thier heart all season long. And it’s been special.”
The Comets finished their season at 12-3 with thier second consecutive appearance in the state championship, the only two title contests in the school’s history.