Spartans, Palelei another stern test for SCC

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, September 17, 2013


LAPLACE — Sione Palelei.
That’s the next challenge on St. Charles Catholic’s plate, the name of the player that the Comets  must ultimately corral this Friday night if SCC hopes to avoid falling for a second consecutive game. The Comets travel to face East Ascension Friday night, and Palelei, an LSU committed running back, figures to see plenty of work.
Last season, Palelei scored 16 times and gained 828 rushing yards on just 111 carries.
“We have to stop a phenomenal running back,” said St. Charles coach Frank Monica. “He runs with great balance and has tremendous speed. He’s extremely hard to knock off of his feet. You see him surrounded by people and still getting yards. And if he gets in front of you, it’s all over.”
Palelei rushed for 183 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries last week in the Spartans’ 66-32 victory over Patterson last week. East Ascension rolled up more than 600 total yards of offense in the game.  In EA’s opening week win over Plaquemine, it was his 99-yard kickoff return that provided the winning score in a 38-34 victory. He finished with 133 rushing yards in that game.
“We need to deny him the ball as much as we possibly can,” said Monica. “They run the no-huddle and they’ve scored a whole lot of points along the way of beating two good teams. Their quarterback is consistent. He’s good enough so that you can’t just load the box and stop the run.’
“For us, it comes down to ball control and keeping our offense on the field, with theirs on the sideline. If this turns into a high-scoring game, then we won’t be a part of it. We can’t keep pace in a game like that. We don’t generate those kinds of big plays.”
To execute that gameplan, it will take better ball-security than the Comets showed last week.  SCC (1-1) turned the ball over five times, including on its first three possessions of the second half against East Jefferson to help the Warriors build a 25-point lead. Likewise, while East Jefferson fumbled seven times, the Comets recovered only two of those.
“We played Santa Claus all night long,” said Monica. “We’re not good enough to overcome five turnovers against anyone, let alone a team like that.”
Moreover, Monica said he needs to see a lot more intensity from his players. After Friday’s loss, he said he thought many of his players were intimidated, and that the Comets needed to show a lot more fire this week.
“We’re really gonna have to be mentally tough. We didn’t show resiliency last week,” said Monica. “We need to be ready to play with that intensity you see in an SEC game. We have to regain that SEC mentality.”
 While East Ascension (2-0) is allowing 33 points per game so far, much of that can be attributed to the team’s rapid pace. EA returns nine of 11 starters from last season.
“That’s an incredible number,” said Monica. “They’re excited at 2-0. They’ve got this marked as their year. From our standpoint, we just need to improve. There’s still a lot of football in front of us. To go to Gonzales and earn a win, we’ll need to show tremendous improvement in a very short timeframe.”