Hall pushes Comets past Vandy

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 15, 2009



St. Charles Catholic coach Frank Monica spoke before the season of his team “surviving” through the first two games of the season, when the Comets would play three much larger schools in Class 5A East St. John – a jamboree matchup – and Class 4A foes Woodlawn and, most recently, Vandebilt Catholic.

Not only have the Comets survived, but thrived.

St. Charles overcame a 17-point deficit to rally and defeat host Vandebilt Catholic, 24-17, in a non-district game Friday night.

Sophomore Marcus Hall’s 52-yard punt return with 4:26 remaining in the fourth quarter capped a run of 24 unanswered points and proved to be the game winner for St. Charles.

The game boasted a familiar coaching matchup between Monica and former West St. John coach Laury Dupont, who ended a one-year coaching sabbatical to take over the Terriers program.

“Coach Dupont and his staff did a great job preparing for us. We had to fight for our lives to get out of there with a win,” Monica said.

Each defense stepped up. SCC held Vandebilt Catholic to 125 total yards, but the Terriers were just about as stingy, allowing the Comets 132.

Vandebilt (1-1) took advantage of a sluggish first half for St. Charles, which fumbled the ball away on the second play of the game and also botched a punt, giving the Terriers the ball on the SCC 5.

“Maybe it was the bus ride over. I just don’t know,” said Monica. “But we gave them the momentum early with the fumble. We had to battle past a number of mistakes.”

After Vandebilt struck first in the second quarter on a 20-yard field goal by Matt Blanchard, Hunter Pere’s 47-yard run and Nate Smith’s 3-yard touchdown reception from T.J. Cantrell – following the botched punt attempt – put Vandebilt ahead 17-0.

At halftime, Monica said his leaders stepped up.

“It’s a tribute to the character of the kids. They got together at the half and rallied one another.

And it led to a nice, nice comeback win,” he said.

The second half was a display of the great balance the Comets (2-0) boast across its units – scores on offense, defense and special teams keyed a huge turnaround.

Stafford Jones, returning from injury to see his first action of the year, put the Comets on the board in the third quarter on an 8-yard touchdown run.

The Comets then turned to its defense for a momentum turning play. SCC’s Dylan Klibert forced a fumble on a hit in the backfield as Vandebilt was attempting a reverse-pass. Brady Hitt recovered the fumble and returned it 59 yards for a score to make it 17-14.

James Krawczyk’s 28-yard field goal in the fourth quarter tied the game at 17.

That set up Hall’s game-winner.

“He’s got a great future,” said Monica. “He’s only 148 pounds, and he’s so young. He’s got great eyes – he sees the entire field. His moves are extremely subtle. He’s not extremely fast, but he always makes the first man miss.

“He’s fearless – and a lot of fun to watch.”