Comets prepare to face impressive Cavs ‘D’

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, October 15, 2013


LAPLACE — As St. Charles Catholic attempts to pick itself off the mat after last week’s loss at John Curtis, a district foe on the upswing awaits the Comets this Friday.
The Comets are set to host a 4-2 De La Salle squad that has won three straight games after installing former wideout Victor Gaines at quarterback. Gaines became the team’s new passer after two consecutive losses to St. Michael and Hannan and immediately led the Cavaliers to wins over Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and McMain.
The latter was the team’s district opener and most impressive win — the De La Salle defense held a Mustangs team that was averaging 44 points per game before last week’s contest to a mere six, while forcing four McMain turnovers.
“Watching the film tells you that it’s not a fluke,” said St. Charles coach Frank Monica. “They run an eight in the box scheme, a 3-3 stack that we haven’t seen much of this year. They’re built to handle speed. For us, we’ve got to win along our lines. Line play is going to be the biggest determining factor in my mind.”
De La Salle (4-2, 1-0) currently sits at No. 14 in the Class 3A overall power rankings, while SCC (3-3, 0-1) sits at 20.
However, the Cavaliers are likely to enter this game very hungry. While the McMain victory saw them slow down an explosive offense, none of De La Salle’s four wins have come over a program with the pedigree of St. Charles.
“They’re like a caged tiger that can explode on you,” said Monica. “With the skill people they have, especially at quarterback.”
Gaines passed for 90 yards and a touchdown last week while also rushing for 97 and a score. Monica notes that he brings a different dimension than other running quarterbacks because Gaines runs like a true running back, with power. The Comets are familiar with such a style — former tailback Austin Weber offers that dimension to the Comets at quarterback.
“He’s a big part of their power series,” said Monica. “You see a lot of guys who beat you with wiggle when they take off. He’ll power through you. He’s truly like facing an extra running back, and that makes them hard to slow down. It’ll be important for our offense to control the ball and keep them off the field.”
As Monica attributes a speed advantage to the Cavaliers, he then stresses the importance of winning the battle in the trenches for his Comets. St. Charles, he said, must be up to the task of being the more physical team, a particular challenge in the wake of a taxing loss against a much bigger Curtis team just days ago.
Monica said that Sean Alonzo, Sean McGraw and Christian Bailey will need to play well on the defensive line for the Comets to excel. On the other side of things, an offensive line led by Patrick Juneau and Jordan Hitt will have to open holes against a Cavs team that’ll stack eight in the box.
“We need to find ways to get the ball outside to the perimeter. Erron Lewis and Austin Weber are going to have to play well. Austin has to protect the ball. Erron’s coming off a strong game against a exceptional Curtis team. He had over 100 yards and he didn’t play in the fourth quarter. Those guys are key.”
Winning the turnover battle will also be a focus. The Comets did so two weeks ago in their victory over Ville Platte, and jumped on Curtis early last week after a fumble recovery by Justin Jase.