St. Charles at John Curtis

Published 4:19 pm Tuesday, October 8, 2013


LAPLACE — After his team’s most complete effort of the season, a 49-0 victory over Ville Platte, St. Charles Catholic coach Frank Monica summed up the next challenge on his team’s plate.
“Next week,” he said, “we’ve got the big, bad wolf.”
National powerhouse John Curtis is that which will be huffing and puffing this Friday night as the Patriots host the Comets in District 11-3A action, fresh off Curtis’s nationally televised contest with St. Augustine, a 29-28 Purple Knights victory.
It was the second loss of the season for the Patriots, who won the “national championship” last season as voted on by USA Today and other media outlets. Curtis fell to St. Thomas Aquinas of Florida in the season’s second week. It’s resulted in Curtis falling to second in the LSWA Class 3A poll behind University Lab.
Still, the Patriots hold wins over Karr, East St. John and Bergen Catholic of New Jersey; this isn’t exactly a down year for the Patriots, even if their record says otherwise. Even with this season two losses, Curtis has won 31 of its last 33 games.
“They’re coming in wounded,” said Monica. “Their pride is a little hurt. But they’ve lost to two exceptional football teams. They’re playing a brutal schedule. The talent is still there, no doubt about it.”
The word “physicality” is never too far from Monica’s lips when talking about the “musts” for his team in a given week. But against Curtis, it’s especially a focus. John Curtis’ offensive line takes over games — witness a 306 yard rushing effort in its 38-33 win over nationally-ranked Karr two weeks ago — and present a much smaller Comets team with an obvious mismatch in the trenches to overcome.
“They’re the most physical team you’ll see,” said Monica.
The Patriots (3-2) may double down on that physicality when considering their situation. Curtis has been a much more versatile team in recent years than it’s been historically, with coach J.T. Curtis willing to put the ball in the air more than ever. And why not? Wide receiver Malachi Dupre is a force, and the 6-foot-3-inch senior playmaker is one of the most sought after recruits in the nation. Teammate Henry Smith, himself boasting great height at 6-foot-2, is already committed to Houston.
But quarterback Abby Touzet broke his collarbone two weeks ago against Karr and the Patriots relied mostly on their bread and butter, the rushing attack,  last week against St. Augustine.
George Moreira and Raekwon James carry the load in the backfield for Curtis, running behind a mammoth line led by sophomore Willie Allen, a 6-foot-6-inch, 270 pound major collegiate prospect.
For St. Charles to compete, the Comets (3-2) must find a way to limit the run.
“Their ability to throw does make it an entirely different scenario (than in years past),” said Monica. “But the biggest thing for them is still that hard dive. They push the whole defensive line back four or five yards every snap. It’s been their mantra for years. You know it’s coming and you’ve got to stop it.”
Defensively, Curtis also brings some serious talent to the table. Linebacker Kenny Young is one of the nation’s top prospects as well. He racked up more than 25 tackles on Friday night. Up the middle, defensive tackle Ryan Guthrie is a load at 275 pounds and makes life difficult for opposing offenses. Safety Hunter Dale leads the secondary.
Curtis will enter this week’s game as the favorite. But if the Comets can throw a scare into the Patriots, it wouldn’t be the first time. St. Charles is the last district opponent to truly test Curtis, nearly coming away with an upset victory over the Patriots in 2009. Curtis survived, winning 19-18 at Thomas Dupuy Stadium.