Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009



So many times this decade, Frank Monica has had his St. Charles Comets playing at a championship level.

Too many times for Comet faithful, John Curtis has been the team to dash those title dreams.

On Friday night, St. Charles (12-1) has its latest shot to exorcise its demon in Curtis (12-0), as the teams will face off in a Class 2A semifinal game at 7 p.m. Friday night at Joe Yenni Stadium.

Monica knows exactly what his team is up against.

“This is not only one of the best teams in the state, but in the nation,” Monica says.

The powerhouse Patriots have been quite a thorn in St. Charles’ side over the past few years.

In 2005, St. Charles made its run in Class 2A as a 13-seed and upended top seeded Sterlington 23-0 en route to a championship game clash with Curtis in Shreveport. The Patriots took the trophy back home to River Ridge with a 31-6 win over SCC.

A year later, the Comets were back with a more heralded group, this time as the third seed. It again knocked off Sterlington and edged No. 2 St. James before again meeting Curtis, this time losing a 41-6 decision in the Superdome.

After two years in Class 3A, the Comets have returned to 2A with a vengeance in 2009. SCC finished the regular season with only one loss – that loss, however, came at the hands once again of district foe Curtis, denying St. Charles the District 9-2A championship.

That game was different than the others, though – the Comets left Thomas Dupuy Stadium knowing they could have won.

SCC led 18-12 with 6:13 remaining on the clock before Curtis embarked on a 13-play, 80-yard drive for a game winning score, capping a thriller and one of the most talked about games of the prep season.

It left a bitter taste in the mouthes of the players.

“After the first time, we were a little down,” said SCC receiver Tyler Roussel. “But now we have another shot. We need to correct what we did wrong last time out. This one means a lot to all of us.”

Monica said that he pointed his players to a potential rematch even as the pain of that loss was just setting in.

“I told them that if we were who we thought we were, if we were any good, that a rematch would take place,” he said. “The first time wasn’t good enough. Now we have a chance to eliminate what we didn’t do well, and hold onto what we did.”

Curtis’ defense has been its backbone all season long. On only two occasions has the Patriots defense allowed double figures – against Class 4A power Salmen (a 24-23 overtime win) and against the Comets. Through 12 games, JCC has allowed only 65 points. It’s recorded six shutouts.

Offensively, running back Torrey Pierce shoulders much of the offensive load in the J.T. Curtis’ Wing-T, and as usual the Patriots generally opt to pound the ball behind their massive offensive line – a big concern of Monica’s.

“They’ve got 300 pounders across the line…we give up 70 pounds a man,” said Monica. “Our offense needs to find a way to move the football, because our defense can’t afford to take many snaps against their line.”

But you can’t sleep on Curtis through the air, either — quarterback Bryce Jenkins adds an element to the passing game that Monica says JCC has lacked at times in the past.

“He’s the best passer they’ve had in awhile,” said Monica.

SCC doesn’t lack for weapons either. Quarterback Henri Faucheux has been efficient throughout the year, and played one of his best games in the first matchup with Curtis (20-of-26, 216-1).

The running attack and return game lost a major weapon with the injury of Marcus Hall during district play.

But it uncovered a major weapon in Lazedrick Thompson, who provides a powerful compliment to speedy tailback Jeffrey Hall.

Its defense has been stingy, not once allowing more than 19 points this season, and eight times allowing seven points or less.

Considering the Comets performance against Curtis earlier this season, one would expect that St. Charles would hardly be intimidated by the Curtis mystique.

“You can’t be intimidated,” said St. Charles defensive lineman Dorian Mitchell. “But we know that’s the team that’s been stopping us. It just means we have to play them even harder.”

Monica’s already seen some of his teams fall at the feet of the Curtis dynasty.

He gives the ’09 Comets a leg up on those squads in at least one aspect.

“The difference now is we have 23 seniors. This is a group of good leaders, great character guys, and a little more maturity than maybe teams we’ve had in the past.

There’s not much more size here, and certainly not more speed, but there’s more maturity. This is a mentally tough group.”