Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 16, 2011



LAPLACE — Number one versus number two.

One need look no further than the recent LSU/Alabama college football matchup to get a clear read on just how much weight that scenario carries in terms of hype, expectations and attention.

But nobody expected St. Charles and Patterson to square off so soon.

The Comets (11-0), top ranked in the Class 3A LSWA poll for nearly all of the past season, will host the team ranked just behind it for most that span this Friday night. It was a matchup projected by many to occur at the Superdome a month from now.

But instead, it will happen in the regional round — largely thanks to a tropical storm.

Tropical Storm Lee caused Patterson’s opener to be cancelled, leaving the Lumberjacks (10-0) with just nine games. That left a big enough hole in their power rating to drop them to 15, despite a 9-0 record. That storm also contributed to St. Charles finishing behind Farmerville and entering as the second seed.

And so here we stand, at the doorstep of a regional round dream bout pitting teams with 21 combined wins and no losses against one another, one that will be televised state-wide on Cox Sports Television.

Though the term “dream bout” may fit loosely for St. Charles coach Frank Monica and Patterson coach Tommy Minton: it’s not tough to understand why either might want to see this particular game come later, rather than sooner.

“It’s just the luck of the draw, and it didn’t work in either team’s favor. I don’t think either team wanted this matchup so early, but here we are,” said Monica. “But if you feel like you might be a Superdome contender, I guess you get to find out two weeks earlier.”

Both teams have left wreckage in their wake. St. Charles has outscored its opposition 524-31. The Comets have allowed just four opponents to score offensive points all season. Patterson, meanwhile, has outscored its 10 opponents 506-80, averaging a shade over 50 points a game.

Monica said that in past weeks, his concern was a team being able to control the ball and time of possession against the Comets. This week, he has no such fears. Patterson looks to score early, score often and score quickly.

“It isn’t time of possession that matters here. It’s the amount of possessions, the amount of at-bats each team gets,” said Monica. “They’re a quick strike offense. Some of their drives are less than a minute. When we have the ball, we need to score touchdowns, because (Patterson) is a touchdown machine.”

The one plus, he noted, was that the matchup will happen in LaPlace, and not at Patterson or even in the Superdome.

“We get them on grass. I don’t know how much that will equalize the speed difference. But we’ll play in the elements and be familiar with our surroundings,” he said.

Patterson defeated visiting Brusly last week, 42-28, to advance. The Panthers are a common opponent, hailing from St. Charles’ 7-3A district. SCC defeated Brusly, 35-0, last month.

The Lumberjacks’ lost last season’s star, running back Kenny Hilliard, to LSU after Patterson finished as 3A state runner-up. But the offense has become even more explosive thanks to a spread attack triggered by quarterback Justice Jones. Jones completed 28 of his 46 pass attempts for 356 yards and four touchdowns last week, three of those scores going to big play threat Jaydrick Declouet. Earl Andrews, Mark Jones, Trevon Stewart and Deondre Skinner round out a deep corps of weapons.

Patterson passes with high volume, yet takes care of the ball. Jones has thrown 30 touchdown passes this season, with only two interceptions.

Brusly was able to put up points on the back of quarterback Jay Christophe, who ran 15 times for 111 yards and two scores.

St. Charles, meanwhile, had to play last week for the first time without the services of both Marcus Hall and Lazedrick Thompson, the stellar tailback duo that had combined to rush for nearly 1,900 yards and over 30 touchdowns this season. Both are injured, with Hall suffering a broken wrist and Thompson an injured knee in the final weeks of the season.

The Comets were able to compensate, nonetheless, in a 49-6 win over No. 31 seed Kaplan.

St. Charles got off to a strong start after forcing a Kaplan punt, as Jeffrey Hall returned it 64 yards for a score to make it 7-0.

SCC never looked back. Hall made it 14-0 after a 1-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter, and Austin Weber pushed the lead to three scores on a 19-yarder in the second. Brandon Zimmer would rush for the next three Comet scores and Weber struck again early in the second half to make it 49-0.

St. Charles intercepted Kaplan four times on the night.

Donnie Savoie completed 10 of 14 passes for 134 yards. Sammy Miller caught four passes for 44 yards.

Weber led all rushers with 80 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. Zimmer rushed seven times for 34 yards, and Hall gained 31 yards on five attempts.

That committee figures to be leaned on again, as Monica doesn’t believe either of his injured running backs will be available this week, though each are angling for a return soon.