SCC’s Monica knows team must gel fast
Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, August 12, 2014
By RYAN ARENA
LAPLACE — One of Louisiana’s most consistently strong programs was hard at work Tuesday, the St. Charles Comets in the midst what Coach Frank Monica described as perennially the team’s toughest week of practice.
“It’s that week of practice where we practice in pads but don’t have a game or scrimmage to cap things off,” Monica said. “Right now, I need to see a better effort from everyone.”
Monica is known for his relentless attention to detail and high standards for practice habits. He is also known for the success his approach yields. St. Charles has been to three state finals under Monica, including a state championship win in 2011, and has been an annual contender to make a deep postseason run. MaxPreps.com recently named the Comets Louisiana’s 15th most dominant football team of the MaxPreps era (from 2004 through today), with five Top 25 finishes in that stretch.
St. Charles will host University High in its preseason scrimmage at 5 p.m. Aug. 21.
Boasting a lineup with many new faces — SCC is replacing 15 starters from last year’s team — Monica wants to see the process of building a winner come together as quickly as possible in 2014, as there won’t be much time to waste once the season begins: a sure-to-be spirited jamboree against rival Riverside leads into pre-district clashes with Southern Lab, East Jefferson and East Ascension.
“We need to get back to the tempo we’ve had in the past at practice,” Monica said.
“The execution isn’t where we need it to be. I don’t think we’re showing the maturity that’s necessary.
“We threw at them in the spring, the entire playbook, and now it’s time to purge and pick out the things we do really well and will go-to when the games begin.”
The Comets expect much out of their running game this season, and for good reason. Erron Lewis enters his senior season upon a wave of momentum after finishing with more than 1,200 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns last season. Backup tailback Justin Loupe also proved effective. Then there’s quarterback Austin Weber, who converted from tailback during his sophomore season. Weber presents a threatening ability to take off with his legs while bringing two seasons of starting experience to the table as a passer.
But it all starts up front. The Comets’ offensive line must prove up to the task of opening rushing lanes. Monica said senior Michael Bosarge has come forward as a leader on that unit.
“No matter how well we run the ball,” Monica, however, cautions, “we have to have the ability to throw it downfield.”
He doesn’t think his team will lack for weapons, calling the receiving corps the deepest unit on the squad. Though SCC hasn’t had its receiving squad together due to illness and injury, Brady Becker, Monica said, has been impressing.
“He’s really stepping up,” said Monica.
Defensively, the secondary has shown great promise, led by junior Eric Lewis — the brother of tailback Erron. He’s joined by Jace Snowden, Jacoby Johnson and Cameron Torres.
“They’ve looked pretty good,” Monica said. “But we’ve still got to see how they do against outside competition.”
Defensive end Jonathan Scarpero is one Monica has high hopes for as he rebuilds his front seven, and Trace Cortez is among those who have looked good at linebacker.
Potentially one of the biggest factors in the Comets’ fortunes this season, however, was revealed outside of the SCC campus, and the River Parishes for that matter, completely: John Curtis and Evangel highlight a group of Division II schools that have agreed to move up to Division I for Select postseason play.
John Curtis and Evangel have combined to win 39 state championships.
Reports have also indicated St. Thomas More and Teurlings Catholic will move up.
After last year’s much publicized select and non-select school split, which expanded the state’s championship divisions from five to eight, with that affecting only the postseason, St. Charles was left to compete in a stacked Division II roster of teams including the aforementioned four teams.
Remaining are perennial contenders including Notre Dame, University Lab and Parkview Baptist.
And, of course, the Comets.
“We still have to play John Curtis in our district,” Monica said. “But the relief comes in that you don’t have to play that team twice. I think it gives teams in our division a lot of motivation, now, in terms of what’s ahead in the postseason. Now it’s a slate of 3A and 4A teams that share a similar philosophy.Certainly, everyone should be encouraged.”