Hall, Feist, Monroe, Monica top All-Parish
Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 21, 2012
By RYAN ARENA
It was truly a landmark football season in St. John Parish.
School offensive and defensive records fell. The four local teams went a combined 43-11, all won at least one playoff game, two advanced to the Superdome, and one — St. Charles Catholic — celebrated on its turf, winning it all for the first time in school history.
L’Observateur’s Annual All-Parish team sees all four teams well-represented, with a pair of Comet representatives among the very most honored this season.
St. Charles’ Jeffrey Hall and West St. John’s Ronnie Feist each helped to lead their teams to the Superdome in 2011 and earn L’Observateur’s co-Defensive Most Valuable Player honors for St. John Parish. East St. John’s Darion Monroe is our selection for St. John’s Offensive Most Valuable Player. And St. Charles coach Frank Monica, fresh off of guiding SCC to unprecedented heights, takes St. John’s Coach of the Year honors.
Hall played on the offensive side of the ball as a sophomore and a junior, first at running back, then at wide receiver. But after graduation left the Comets’ secondary depleted, Monica felt that one of his most productive offensive players was simply needed more on defense, and moved him to cornerback.
He was a quick study. Hall intercepted nine passes, made 55 tackles, recovered two fumbles and forced another, quickly making a name as one of the state’s most feared defensive backs.
His individual stats tell only part of the story; he helped to create a defensive unit that goes down in history as a suffocating force for the ages. The Comet defense allowed just 23 offensive points during the regular season, and over eight points just twice (in the Class 3A quarterfinals and semifinals). In the Class 3A championship game, that defense held Amite to 8 points — just enough for a 9-8 victory and a championship celebration. Covering for injuries, he played running back extensively in the postseason, and caught a game-tying, fourth quarter bomb from Donnie Savoie in a comeback semifinal win over Parkview Baptist.
Feist, who committed to LSU following his junior season, is a repeat winner of the Parish’s Defensive MVP despite a rough start to the season; Feist suffered broken vertebrae in his back and missed the season’s first three games.
Upon his return, he made sure that nobody would forget just why he generated so much hype in that junior year. An astounding 44 of his 65 tackles were for a loss, and he tallied 19 sacks.
He helped lead West St. John to the Superdome where it would finish as state runner-up — the defense’s finest moment may have come in a 15-8 win at Haynesville in the state quarterfinals, where WSJ allowed Haynesville no offensive points.
His work was noticed statewide, as he secured honors as the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Class 1A Outstanding Defensive Player.
Monroe will go down as one of East St. John’s most memorable and accomplished players, and like Feist, repeats as a L’Observateur MVP after tabbing offensive honors in 2010.
After the departure of coach Larry Dauterive and superstar wide receiver D’haquille Williams, and surrounded by a largely young team, some may have wondered what Monroe could feasibly do for an encore. But any doubters he might have had were silenced on any given Friday night, where he seemed to make all the plays that were there to make … and many that weren’t.
Monroe spread the ball around to a bevy of wide receivers, completing 55 percent of his passes for 2,484 yards and 20 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. Monroe was a nightmare to deal with because he could also run the football, and he did that often, generating 593 yards and 13 touchdowns. Renowned as a leader as well as a playmaker, the senior led the Wildcats to their first playoff victory since 2006, a dominating 35-3 win over Brother Martin at Tad Gormley Stadium.
Monica had led St. Charles to the cusp of greatness year in and year out — the Comets made it to the Superdome twice under his watch prior to 2011, and had reached the state semifinals two consecutive seasons in 2009 and 2010.
But things became apparent early that even for a team that had become a consistent power under his watch, this unit was something special. The Comets outscored their competition by almost 600 points, 640-66, and the only thing left to question for many was what SCC might do in a close game, which it hadn’t experienced entering the playoffs’ late stages.
But the Comets showed that they could win any kind of game. SCC trailed 14-0 and then by a touchdown late against Parkview Baptist, but came back to win 24-21. Then, for a team with that aforementioned bottomless pit of point-differential, it would secure a state championship by protecting the slimmest of margins in the end, a one-point lead in a 9-8 victory.
It came in a season where Monica captured his 200th victory, a memorable 31-6 win over Patterson in the regional round of the postseason.
They are just a few of a great many standouts this season in St. John Parish. The full team is listed in Saturday’s edition of L’Observateur.