Monica begins evaluation of 2008 Comets

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Sports Editor

St. Charles Coach Frank Monica always looks to the spring as an opportunity – one to see just what kind of team he’s got going into the next season.

But that sneak peak isn’t about projecting wins and losses. It’s too early for that, he says.

“It gives you an idea of what kind of locker room it’s going to be,” said Monica. “Who is self-motivated, and is this team going to be fun to coach?”

The fun ended for Monica and St. Charles last season in the regional round, when the Comets ran into a buzzsaw in Lutcher, the District 9-3A champions last season, who will again pose the biggest challenge to St. Charles if it is to win a district crown.

“We have a long way to close that gap,” Monica said. “I’m just hoping we’re a better team this season. They’ll be good, as always.

“We can’t close it talent wise. We’ll have to do it with attitude.”

Between quarterback Vincent Rollo and running back Jonathan Cancienne, the Comets must replace over 3,000 total yards of offense.

Thrusted into the spotlight will be Marc Picciola at quarterback and Courtland Taylor at running back.

Picciola saw limited in-game duty last season, while Taylor started at fullback.

But Monica and the Comet coaches were able to get an extended look at Taylor in the feature role, when he filled in for an injured Cancienne late last season.

“It makes me feel relief,” said Monica. “We know (Taylor) can play two positions. He’s a very intelligent player. The rest of our running backs don’t have much experience.”

He also believes the offense is in good hands with his new quarterback.

“I know he’ll run the offense. He knows where to go with the ball,” said Monica. “He’s very smart, and knows our offense thoroughly. He’s got a good handle on what we do.”

Defensively, the main order of business will be to rebuild the secondary, as seniors Corey Reed, Corey Crowder and Jordan Millet have all moved on.

While that adjustment is underway, much will fall on the Comets front seven to create pressure on the opposition.

One important component of that will be junior defensive tackle D.J. Wesley, who Monica sees as someone that could grow into a team leader.

“He looks like he has a lot of leadership abilities,” Monica said. “We need him to play well for us to be good defensively.”

The pre-district schedule again is no picnic. After facing off with Riverside in a jamboree game, SCC will face four 5A schools off the bat, before closing out with Class 1A runner-up West St. John.

“The biggest thing is not the power points, but to get out of that stretch healthy,” said Monica. “The competition will be very good.”