SCC Comets to face nemesis Curtis in 2nd

Published 2:54 am Wednesday, November 20, 2013


LAPLACE — To call John Curtis a postseason nemesis of St. Charles Catholic’s would be an understatement.
Twice, Curtis has downed Frank Monica’s Comets in the Class 2A state championship game, in 2005 and 2006. In 2009, the Patriots toppled SCC in the state semifinals.
SCC is not yet two full years removed from the first state championship in program history, and Monica said “We’ll never know,” when it comes to how many state crowns his program might have captured were it not for the Patriots road block.
But Curtis looms again. The top seed in Division II drew a bye in round one and will host St. Charles at Muss Bertolino Stadium in Kenner this Friday night, after SCC’s decisive first round victory over De La Salle last week.
The Comets (8-3) and Patriots (7-2) met in District 11-3A play on Oct. 11, JCC emerging with a 46-13 win in what effectively served as the district championship game.
Heading into that game, Monica said that it would take a Herculean effort to win, but also acknowledged the importance of not putting too much into that one game — doing so against Curtis in past, regular season games, he said, had left his team “out of gas” in ensuing weeks.
That isn’t the case this time. The season is on the line.
“In the last game, we scored off the bat. But when they punched us in the mouth, we didn’t respond,” said Monica. “They answered us in one play. It’s important that we get this game to the fourth quarter, because they put people away by halftime.”
Curtis earned the honor of “national champion” after an undefeated season in 2012 and played in a number of high-profile matchups this season. The Patriots suffered losses to St. Augustine, 29-28, and St. Thomas Aquinas of Florida, 27-13. Curtis’s most high profile win came over Karr, 38-33. It looked impressive early this season in a 39-7 win over East St. John, and was unchallenged in district play, outscoring its four foes 203-34.
Raekwon James rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns and George Moreira rushed for 147 yards and two scores – on just five carries – to lead the Patriots in the first matchup.
“We have to take away the first phase of their option,” said Monica of the JCC Veer. “We didn’t do that at all last time. The dive split us, then they hit a couple of sweeps. They don’t pitch it often, but we’ve got to get them to that stage.’
“That’s difficult, though … it’s so hard to match up with them physically. By the time the back gets the ball, he’s already gained three yards. They move the line of scrimmage up front.”
Forcing Curtis to pitch the ball is one way SCC can potentially force turnovers, especially important to an underdog.
“They don’t mind pitching it, but it’s not what they want to do,” Monica said. “The exchange becomes more high-risk.”
But Monica said that Curtis’ calling card, more than the Veer, is the other phases of the game.
“Everyone talks about the Veer, but what makes Curtis is their defense and special teams,” said Monica. “They’re just so solid and disciplined. The teams that have wins over them and scored a lot of points, like St. Augustine, we don’t have the personnel those teams do. The caliber of opponents they’ve faced tells you all you need to know.”
One thing that did work in the Comets favor last time out was its own running game. Erron Lewis rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, doing essentially all of his damage in the first three quarters. Quarterback Austin Weber added 34 yards on the ground as well.
“We’d like to repeat that success, but that’s what Curtis is good at,” said Monica. “They take away what you did best against them the last time out. We’d like to go out and get Erron 100 yards, but we can’t afford to rely on just one thing.’
“We need balance, because they won’t allow you to beat them with one dimension.”