Comets retooling as spring rolls along
Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, May 20, 2014
By RYAN ARENA
LAPLACE — The names of the players have changed at St. Charles Catholic over the years, but the Comets’ winning tradition has stayed constant.
So few would fault anyone for harboring skepticism that the 2014 Comets are in for any kind of a true rebuilding season, even in the wake of a graduating class that leaves SCC with the task of replacing 15 starters, nine of those on defense.
St. Charles coach Frank Monica has shown a deft touch when dealing with each specific roster during his 14-year run at the school. This spring, he sees a roster not only down in terms of experience but overall numbers from years past.
But Monica also sees a faster team heavier on athleticism and skill than some of his others. Seven days into spring practice, he said the work ethic has been there too.
“So far, I’ve been pleased,” Monica said. “The effort has been real, real good. We’ve thrown the entire offense and defense at them. We’ve got to use our time to really just learn how to play football. We’ve got so many question marks right now and a lot of holes to fill.”
At 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Thomas Dupuy Stadium, SCC will play an intra-squad scrimmage at the school for its spring game.
St. Charles lost four games last season, each to a respective heavy-hitter: Class 5A squads East Ascension and East Jefferson and national powerhouse John Curtis. SCC allowed 30 points or more in each, but the Comet defense was dominant in each of the team’s eight wins, the team allowing seven or less points in five of those.
But the deck on that side of the ball has to be completely reshuffled, starting with the secondary. Returning starter Eric Lewis will lead the rebuilt unit.
“He’s just going to be a junior, but he’s kind of the elder statesman there,” Monica said. “We’ve got a couple of guys who’ll really smack you. We feel like we’ve got five or six defensive backs who we can get out there, and that’s a key element, because everyone is going more to the spread offense. You need a quicker defense out there.”
Monica said that the Comets will also boast more speed at linebacker. Up front, both lines are thin, he said. But some are showing promise in the trenches, including defensive tackles Brandon Andry, an offensive lineman converted to defense, and Charles LeDuff. At end, Monica likes what he’s seeing from Trenton Matus and Jonathan Scarpero.
“We really need them to come through,” said Monica. “What we do up front has so much impact on everything else defensively.”
Offensively, there are a few more familiar faces, including returning quarterback Austin Weber. Weber will be a senior next season after starting in each of the past two seasons for St. Charles. He is joined in the backfield by Erron Lewis, who has impressed his veteran coach this spring after scoring more than 20 touchdowns in 2013.
“(Lewis) looks really sharp out there,” said Monica. “He looks like a guy who can take it to another level. He’s breaking tackles and making a lot happen in the open field. He’s really putting in the work. We need him to hit home runs for us if we’re going to have success.”
Dane Authement, Brady Becker and Albert Hane each return at wide receiver, a position Monica is confident in.
“Nobody’s a 4.4 guy, but they know our system well,” he said.
Tyson Arceneaux and Michael Bosarge are the lone returning offensive line starters, while Zach Maurin returns at tight end.
Monica said that he elected to not schedule an outside opponent for the spring game this season in part because he doesn’t feel the abbreviated 10-day spring schedule affords enough time to prepare for live-game action.
“With the rules changing starting next season, we’re going to be squeezed even more,” Monica said. “It will limit you to three hours of practice and for schools with an athletic P.E., it won’t really affect them. But for us, it’ll have a big effect. As an academic school, we’re not blessed with that extra 90-minute block. That’s extra time spent on film study, weight lifting … basically two-a-days. We’re going to have to get all we can into the three-hours.”