St. Charles’ Comets ready for action

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Not a single snap of a single game has taken place in the 2009 prep football season, but to St. Charles coach Frank Monica, his team has already experienced one of its most meaningful stretches of the year.

No, no wins or losses have gone up on the Comets’ record. But the team returned on Monday from its annual camp at Nicholls State, an experience Monica calls “invaluable” to the upcoming season.

“It’s an incredible bonding opportunity for our kids,” said Monica. “It’s where we set the foundation for our season. We basically install everything…you can’t duplicate it at school because of classes, so this is the time to take advantage of. It’s priceless for our program.”

Away from home, with no cell phones, internet or other contact with the outside world, the St. Charles players were left in a world where it’s all about football — and each other.

“It’s 24-7 football,” Monica said. “A lot of the newer kids voice concerns at first. But once they go through it, they really, really enjoy it.”

It’s where the character and personality of the 2009 edition of the Comets began to be cemented.

And if its anything like the 2008 edition, SCC fans will be pleased.

Last season’s team combined a balanced offensive attack with a hard-hitting, physical and opportunistic defensive unit.

Never was that more evident than in the Comets’ victory over Lutcher that keyed what was thought to be an improbable district championship season. The loaded Bulldogs would go on to win the Class 3A state crown — their loss to SCC was the last they’d suffer.

The key would be turnover margin — Lutcher’s four to SCC’s one. Three of those Bulldog turnovers came on fumbles, no small thanks to some well-placed hits.

“We have to be physical,” said Monica. “We’re not a team that can afford to not be.”

Seven Comets return on that side of the ball, including All-District selections Nick Reine, Grant Authement and Dorian Mitchell. But while Monica is confident that his defense may maintain its high level of play, he’s not sure the statistics will bear that out.

“With the schedule we play,” he says, “we could have a better defense, but nobody will know it since we play some explosive offensive teams.”

That’s for sure. In district play alone, John Curtis, Newman, and Riverside all figure to pose problems offensively. The Comets also begin the season with back-to-back Class 4A foes in Woodlawn and Vandebilt Catholic, and end their non-district schedule with a top Class 1A foe in West St. John.

Most importantly, SCC’s District 9-2A is just that — a 2A district — as the Comets move down from the 3A level it has played in each of the last two seasons.

“It’s good and bad,” Monica said. “It puts you around the top of 2A, but then you’re looking down the barrel at some of the state’s top teams, regardless of classification. I think in 2A, there are 10-12 teams that can win a state title. In 3A, there are 20-25. There is no such thing as a good draw.”

Offensively, the big changes come in the backfield. Marc Picciola will not be returning to the squad after starting at quarterback a year ago — he will be concentrating his efforts on baseball. Henri Faucheux will take over, just as he did after Picciola’s late season knee injury.

“(Faucheux) started off a little slow (in camp),” said Monica. “But he ended it really strong. You can see the progress…he’s got the arm, he just needs a little polish.”

Marcus and Jeffery Hall will each see time at tailback, replacing departed senior Courtland Taylor.

The most experienced unit looks to be the offensive line — three starters return, including All-District selection Reed Denny. The team also returns some blocking punch in the form of tight end Brandon Becker, who also was selected All-District.