John Curtis at St. Charles

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, October 7, 2014


LAPLACE — In any series featuring John Curtis on the football field, history tends to favor the Patriots. Its history with St. Charles Catholic is no different.

Still, the last time Curtis visited LaPlace for a football game — as it will this Friday night when the Patriots tangle with the Comets in District 11-3A competition —Curtis came as close to tasting defeat in district play as it has in many years. 

That season, the two undefeated teams faced off in a classic encounter, the Patriots leaving with a 19-18 victory clinched on Bryce Jenkins’ 1-yard touchdown run with 57 seconds left. 

Both teams are off to good starts again in 2014. Curtis (4-1) is ranked second in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Class 3A poll, while St. Charles (4-1) is ranked fourth. 

St. Charles coach Frank Monica says his team won’t find any advantageous matchups against Curtis, nor do the Comets boast a superstar to carry a team on his back to victory.  

But on that 2009 night, Monica said, he had a group of players who refused to say die, and that can go a long way.

“We had some gunfighter-type kids on our team who were very, very competitive and wouldn’t give up,” Monica said. “They showed some real moxie and leadership.”

One thing seems certain: the Comets will not draw a complacent Curtis team, at all. 

The Patriots are an angry team coming off a loss. For the second consecutive season, the Patriots fell to St. Augustine, last week dropping a 15-13 decision to the Purple Knights at Tad Gormley Stadium. Knights kicker Apprecio Wiggins nailed a 27-yard field goal with 6:15 left to play to provide the winning points.

It snapped an 11-game winning streak for Curtis: it’s last loss came against St. Augustine, a nationally televised contest on ESPN that the Knights won 29-28. 

The Patriots dropped out of the USA Today Super 25 national prep football rankings with the loss.

Quarterback Myles Washington carried 18 times for 96 yards to lead Curtis in the game. Running back Devon Benn added 76 yards on 17 attempts. Washington completed 2 of 10 pass attempts for 83 yards.

Monica attended that Saturday game and is no less impressed with the Patriots.

“I thought they outplayed St. Augustine,” Monica said. “They fumbled the ball in two key situations, but otherwise they looked like the better team.”

Last season, Curtis downed St. Charles twice, the first win ultimately deciding the District 11-3A championship and the second a second-round victory in the Division II postseason. 

In Curtis’ 46-13 regular season win, Raekwon James and George Moreira combined to rush for more than 300 yards to pace the Patriots. The Comets took an early 7-0 lead in that game on a Austin Weber touchdown run, but couldn’t sustain that start. Erron Lewis also found success on the ground for St. Charles, though, rushing for 108 yards for SCC.

Little went right for the Comets in the playoff rematch, a 48-0 Curtis win featuring an uncharacteristic poor night for SCC on special teams. Curtis blocked three kicks in the game, contributing to an early surge that ultimately spelled the end of St. Charles’ season. 

“That made us shore up some weaknesses we had,” Monica said of the blocked kicks. “I feel that, at least hopefully, we’ve rectified those since then. That made the big difference in that game because we were down 21-0 right as we got off the bus.”

Curtis holds wins over Mandeville, Lufkin (Tex.), East St. John and Karr, three of those wins by double figures. 

Getting down by multiple scores early against Curtis, Monica said, is almost certain to lead to disaster. 

“You don’t play catch up against that team,” he said. “They’ve got sub-packages for every scenario and if you find yourself in a situation where you’ve now got to become one-dimensional, they scheme and adapt so well.”

St. Charles is no stranger to the triple-option this season, having performed very well against East Jefferson’s version in a 49-14 win in Week Two. 

Curtis’ option is a different animal.

“Theirs is more power-based,” said Monica. “They’re so physical. They come at you with the dive and it’s all about power.

“For us to compete, we need to move the ball and keep their defense on the sideline as much as possible. Even if we’re not scoring, we need to get first downs. We need to play good defense. Those are things we did in 2009 that were to our advantage. Finally, we need to improve our intensity level. We need some of our kids to play above their ability level.”